PM Narendra Modi congratulates Hassan Rouhani on re-election as Iran President

Every incumbent President has been re-elected in Iran since 1985, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself won a second term.

Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, has framed the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”.

More than 56,400,000 Iranian people were eligible to vote.

The central achievement of his first term was a deal with six powers led by the United States that eased crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear programme. Raisi ran a populist campaign, vowing to fight corruption and fix the economy while boosting welfare payments to the poor.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the nuclear deal.

(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi). Voters fill in their ballots while voting for the presidential and municipal councils election at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 19, 2017.

Supporters of the two leading candidates honked, blared music and held pictures of the hopefuls out of vehicle windows on the traffic-clogged and heavily policed streets of Tehran late into the night Thursday, ignoring a ban on campaigning in the final 24 hours before the vote. The Saudis are Iran’s biggest enemies in the region and are expected to push hard for Trump to turn his back on the nuclear deal.

Rouhani’s engagement with the outside world – in spite of economic sanctions and visa restrictions – resonated with voters, especially those in affluent areas.

Another voter, 22-year-old medical student Yasaman Allahgholy, said it was her duty to vote to “make my country more free, and be more popular in the world”, and that it was important to protect the real improvements she has seen recently in Iran’s medical system.

Although Rouhani has been deeply entrenched in Iran’s security establishment since the early days of the revolution, he has emerged as the standard-bearer for reformists after their movement was decimated in the wake of mass protests in 2009.

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.

After casting his ballot, Rouhani said whomever the voters elect as president should receive all of the nation’s support.

Should Raisi win, Iran is expected to retreat from the kind of nascent worldwide engagement seen during Rouhani’s first term, with a focus on growing its economy internally rather than looking for direct foreign investment. “And I am proud of my President”.

“Iranian officials are obsessed with high turnout rates and have been encouraging popular participation in this election, from the campaign stump to the Friday prayer lectern”, said Behnam Ben Taleblu, Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.

Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, the other two candidates, so far received 455,211 and 210,597 votes respectively.

Despite President Trump’s pledges to “rip up” the Iran deal, the Trump administration’s State Department allowed the deal to continue this past week by continuing to waive sanctions on Iran. Another report, however, said the deadline had been extended by five hours.

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