Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Iran state TV declares Rouhani wins vote for second term

As the Supreme Leader urges the Iranian people to vote in the presidential elections on Friday, May 19, the loudest voice may well be that of the non-voters. Election officials extended voting hours at least three times at the more than 63,000 polling places to accommodate the crowds.

During weeks of campaigning the two main candidates exchanged accusations of graft and brutality in unprecedentedly hostile television debates. Millions of Iranians vo.

Rouhani banked his political future on the landmark nuclear deal, which led to the loosening of economic sanctions on Iran.

Although the powers of the elected president are limited by those of unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who outranks him, the scale of Rouhani's victory gives the pro-reform camp a strong mandate. "The fate of the country is in the hands of people", he said.

During the previous presidential election in June 2013, Rouhani had emerged victorious by winning 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million votes.

"I am happy I could vote for Rouhani", said Zohreh Amini, a 21-year-old woman studying painting at Tehran Azad University.

Voting stations opened in Iran at 8am local time (03:30 am GMT) on Friday for the 12th presidential and the fifth city and village councils elections in about 63,500 polling stations. "I feel a chill in my spine imagining he will be president. We showed them that we still exist", said 37-year-old Mahnaz, a reformist voter reached by telephone in the early hours of Saturday. Raisi has even been discussed as a possible successor, though Khamenei has stopped short of endorsing anyone.

Raisi, 56, has accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and has travelled to poor areas, speaking at rallies pledging more welfare benefits and jobs. For most Iranians, the election is a choice between bad and worse, so Rouhani's odds are better than Raisi's.

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Rouhani, considered a moderate, was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the USA, the European Union and other partners.

For the presidential competition, the candidates are incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, Custodian of Imam Reza (AS) Holy Shrine Ebrahim Raeisi and former minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mostafa Aqa Mirsalim and former Minister of Physical Education Mostafa Hashemi Taba.

As the United States reviews its policy on Iran, it is important to realize that any shift in USA policy should be planned without regard for who is declared as the regime's new president.

No sitting president in Iran has failed to win a second term since 1981.

It is clear that a key factor for the regime's criterion for selection of its favoured candidate for presidency for the next four years chiefly rests on the critical importance of safeguarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed with the January 2016. But he remains subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state.

That includes Rouhani openly criticizing hard-liners and Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force now involved in the war in Syria and the fight against Islamic State militants in neighboring Iraq. Rouhani is also credited with loosening some control over society.

But authorities worry about tempers rising too high, especially after the 2009 disputed re-election of former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that saw unrest, mass arrests and killings. Over the past two weeks, Khamenei has repeatedly warned that the most important factor is "security", and that anyone who dares to disturb public order during the election process will get a "slap in the face", often a euphemism for murder. The two figures, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, both endorsed Raisi, as did Mohammad Khatami, another reformist who served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005. "I will remain loyal to my promises to you", he wrote. Millions of Iranians voted late into the night Friday to decide whether incumbent President Hassan Rouha. However, political scientists and analysts immediately noted that not all of Ghalibaf's votes will go to Raisi, only about 70%, because Raisi, unlike Ghalibaf, adheres to more radical conservative line.

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