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A Look at Iran's Presidential Candidates
19 May 2017, 11:05 | Ross Houston
Iranian Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi gestures during a campaign meeting at the Mosala mosque in Tehran Iran on Tuesday
His father-in-law leads Friday prayers in Mashhad and both have seats on the Assembly of Experts that will choose the next supreme leader - a position for which Raisi himself is often rumoured to be in the running. He will not confront the leader if elected.
Rouhani remains faithful to Iran's theocratic system, in which the president's constitutional powers are limited, with overriding authority in the hands of the unelected Khamenei. The presidential race has since narrowed to a two-horse race as other candidates either pulled out or backed Rouhani or Raisi.
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.
An initial field of over 1,600 hopefuls registered to run in the election.
Mohammad Khatami, another reformist who served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005, also has endorsed Rouhani and received a raucous welcome when he voted, according to a clip shared on social media. The council has never allowed a woman to run for president and routinely rejects candidates calling for dramatic reform, stifling change while ensuring the continuation of Iran's Shiite Islamic governance. During the campaign, Rouhani also increasingly has criticized Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary force answering only to Khamenei, something he so far has been hesitant to do while in office.
Despite the removal of nuclear-related sanctions in 2016, lingering unilateral US sanctions that target Iran's record on human rights and terrorism have kept foreign companies wary of investing in Iran, limiting the economic benefits so far. His main challenger is Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric who oversees Iran's largest charity.
The 56-year-old Raisi, who heads an influential religious charitable foundation with vast business holdings, is seen by many as close to Khamenei. Rowhani promised in his 2013 campaign to free the men, but hasn't.
"We have not seen the impact of the nuclear deal on our dining tables at all". Raisi also has promised monthly cash payments to the poor, a populist move that's been popular with Iranian voters in the past.
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However, his candidacy also has revived the controversy surrounding the 1988 mass execution of thousands in Iran, one of the darkest moments of Iran's post-revolution history still not recognized by its government.
Working against Rouhani is a sense among many Iranians that the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept limits on its atomic energy program, has failed to deliver an economic windfall.
"Everyone should vote in this important election", he said, urging citizens to get the polls early. A voter must show their national ID card and fill out a form.
Two other conservative candidates are on the ballot paper. For the first time, Iranian steel products were shipped to China and Brazil. Ballot counting will start at midnight and final results are expected within 24 hours of polls closing, the semi-official Fars news agency said. Iran bars domestic and worldwide observers from the elections, bucking a widely accepted principle around the world that global watchdogs warn can allow for fraud.
Analysts have suggested that a high voter turnout will help Rouhani win a second four-year term.
The conservative-dominated Guardian Council must validate the results of election.
It has always been clear what most Iranian voters want. But if he loses the election by a wide margin, that path is less likely, as his backers would struggle to justify his ascension to absolute power when voters didn't even want him to be president. "They should heed the importance of this task", Ayatollah Khamenei added.
Wearing Rouhani's signature purple on ribbons and loosely draped headscarves, they honked, cheered and chanted slogans in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of two Iranian opposition leaders under house arrest since 2011 who back Rouhani.
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