Iran election indicates good showing for President Rouhani

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has been re-elected for a second term, according to Iranian state TV.

More than 40 million out of 56 million eligible voters cast their ballots, Iran’s interior ministry said, as reported by The Guardian. 40 million voters would then translates into a turnout of around 71 percent.

Polling stations across Iran closed at 12 o’clock Friday night after sixteen hours.

He cast his ballot just minutes after polls opened at 8 a.m.

However, according to Iranian media, the victory of incumbent President and “reformist” Hassan Rouhani is still not guaranteed.

The Guards hope that a win for Raisi will give them an opportunity to claw back economic and political power lost in Shi’ite Iran’s complex theocratic and republican governing structure since 2015, when Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers that brought it out of global isolation.

Election officials said the extensions to voting hours were due to “requests” and the “enthusiastic participation of people”.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two, presumably Rouhani and Raisi, will face each other a second time in a run-off in a week.

Rouhani had won the last election on a platform of promoting a more open Iran on the global stage as well as more freedoms domestically.

“I voted out of concern that a no-show would benefit Raisi”, said Milad, who headed to a polling station in downtown Tehran late Friday. The ministry said the total turnout was around 70%.

Rouhani, a 68-year-old cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, has framed the election as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”. Yet the extent of his success will depend on the cooperation of the Iran’s conservative establishment, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who implicitly supported Raisi during the campaign.

Rouhani, meanwhile, is essentially running for re-election as an outsider, and is backed by Iran’s reformist camp.

He appeared to embrace a more reform-minded role during the campaign as he openly criticized hard-liners and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force involved in the war in Syria and the fight against Islamic State militants in neighboring Iraq. Opposition websites have said Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi both have endorsed Rouhani against Raisi. No woman has ever been approved to run for president.

After long hours of waiting, Spokesman of Elections Headquarters finally appeared among reporters and officially announced confirmed results of almost 26 million votes counted so far.

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