World

Iran election: Hassan Rouhani on course for second term

Iran election: Hassan Rouhani on course for second term

Joyful voters cast their ballots for the presidential election at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 19, 2017.

On Friday Iranians are voting in the first election since the.

Rouhani, 68, who took office promising to open Iran to the world and give its citizens more freedom at home, faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, a protege of supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

He said 40 million votes had been cast, indicating a turnout of about 70 percent, roughly similar to the showing in 2013.

"Rouhani has turned our foreign policies into a mess and damaged our religion", said Sedigheh Davoodabadi, a 59-year-old housewife in Iran's holy city of Qom who voted for Raisi.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has won re-election, the Interior minister said on Saturday.

The incumbent, who successfully negotiated a deal with world powers over Iran's nuclear programme, is seeking a mandate for sweeping changes to policies at home and overseas. It is the first presidential vote since the Iran nuclear agreement was reached with world powers in 2015.

"Around 20 million of eligible voters have been able to vote up to this minute", a source told Fars.

"Rouhani will apply his ever-increasing efforts for the dignity of Iran" in his next term, the reformist said.




Still, the election offers stark choices for Iranians on the direction of their country.

In Tehran, whose liberal and affluent voters form the bedrock of support for Rouhani, lines at some precincts were much longer than those in his 2013 win. Millions of Iranians voted late into the night Friday to decide whether incumbent President Hassan Rouha.

His challenger, conservative former prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi, received 10 million votes, while the other two candidates did not break through the 1 million mark.

The two other candidates in the election are former Vice President Mostafa Hashemitaba and head of the Islamic Coalition Party's Central Council Mostafa Mirsalim. It was widely believed that a low turnout would favor Raisi because he is favored by Iran's security forces, who could mobilize support for him. He is subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state.

He pushed boundaries during the campaign, criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists, and calling on security agencies to not interfere in the vote.

And this is the main outcome of the election - both key candidates actually divided Iranian Azerbaijan between each other, showing that in political terms, the Azerbaijanis of Iran are unable to act by a united front, when pushing "their" candidate.

"I congratulate the great victory of the Iranian nation in creating a huge and memorable epic in the continuation of the path of "wisdom and hope"," tweeted Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, referring to the government's slogan.

In addition to the 12th presidential election and the fifth city and village council election, by-elections are also being held in the cities of Isfahan (in Isfahan), Maragheh, Ahar, Heris (in East Azarbaijan), Ajabshir, Bastak, Parsian and Bandar Lengeh (in Hormuzgan) to elect representatives for a number of vacant parliament seats.


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