Lunes, 29 May, 2017

Rouhani leads Iran's presidential election, expected to win

Iran votes in first presidential election since nuclear deal Iranians vote in presidential election
Eleena Tovar | 20 May, 2017, 12:31

The country's Election Commission said Rouhani had obtained over 14.6 million votes, or approximately 56 per cent of the almost 26 million counted so far, suggesting he is on track for victory, Efe news reported.

This race came down to a clear choice between the current moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose promises for liberal reforms appeal to young people, and the hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, a populist who has promised his working-class base cash handouts and millions of jobs.

Interior Ministry deputy minister Ali Asghar Ahmadi told journalists in a televised news conference Saturday morning that over 40 million Iranians voted in Friday's election.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani casts his ballot during the presidential election in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2017.

The Iranian interior ministry said it would announce the first series of results from Friday's presidential election during the course of Saturday. Many say they are yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its contested nuclear program over the objection of hard-liners in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.

Besides picking a president, Iranians are also voting to choose members of the country's City and Village Councils.

Voting hours were extended several times due to a high turnout in the polls. If no one candidate achieves an absolute majority - over 50% of the vote - a runoff will take place on May 26.

The first was Tehran's hard-line mayor, Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, who pledged his support for Raisi on Monday.

Despite the removal of nuclear-related sanctions in 2016, lingering unilateral USA sanctions that target Iran's record on human rights and terrorism have kept many foreign companies wary of putting stakes in the Iranian market.

Rouhani gained a reprieve this week when Washington agreed to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions, keeping the deal on track for now. Two other candidates are also on the ballot - conservative Mostafa Mirsalim and reformist Mostafa Hashemitaba - though they are not expected to win more than a few percent of the vote.

"I am happy I could vote for Rouhani", said Zohreh Amini, a 21-year-old woman studying painting at Tehran Azad University. Those who led Iran's Green Movement after Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 re-election remain under house arrest. Analysts have suggested a high turnout will aid Rouhani in securing a second four-year term.

All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists. Former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, one of Iran's most popular and influential politicians, received 20m (69.6%) in 1997. However, the supreme leader has the final say on all state matters and the Guardian Council must approve all laws passed by the parliament.

"I respect the outcome of the vote of the people and the result will be respected by me and all the people", Raisi said after voting, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.