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Hassan Rouhani defeats Ebrahim Raisi in Iran presidential elections, reports state TV

20 May 2017, 02:02 | Darnell Patrick

Iranians determine future of reforms in presidential election

Iranians began voting Friday in the country's first presidential election since its nuclear deal with world powers as incu

Lines at several major polling stations across Tehran spilled into the streets until late in the evening, prompting the Interior Ministry to extend voting hours three times. Joblessness remains high - although it fell during Rouhani's first term - and growth is middling.

The two frontrunners are incumbent president and moderate Hassan Rouhani, and Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line conservative who favors isolationism.

First elected in 2013, Rouhani is best known overseas as the president who made a nuclear deal with the West in 2015, in which the country agreed to certain limits on nuclear development in return for the lifting of some sanctions.

The Guards and other hardliners hope that a win for Raisi will give them an opportunity to safeguard economic and political power they see as jeopardised by the lifting of sanctions and opening of the country to foreign investment. Analysts have suggested a high turnout will aid Rouhani in securing a second four-year term. "He kept the shadow of war far from our country".

"Any candidate who is elected should be helped to accomplish this heavy responsibility", Rouhani said.

But Rouhani hashistory and hope on his side.

The IRNA news agency quoted Enayati, as saying that the Islamic Republic of Iran with its incoming president's definitely seeking constructive talks and good neighborliness, because developing ties with neighbours is part of Iran's basic goals.

While Rowhani may be the popular favourite, Raisi has the support of the state's powerful body of unelected clerics. Khamenei called Raisi a "trustworthy and highly experienced" person, causing many to wonder if he might also be a possible successor to the supreme leader himself.

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Iran counts ballots in presidential voteBallots are being counted in an Iranian presidential election that could alter Tehran's foreign policy. Raisi ran a populist campaign, vowing to fight corruption and fix the economy while boosting welfare payments to the poor.

But according to a report from the National Iranian American Council, both candidates appear to be concerned by the idea of voter apathy.

The two other remaining in the race are pro-reform Mostafa Hashemitaba, a 71-year-old former vice president, and principlist-minded Mostafa Mirsalim, a 70-year-old former culture minister.

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

He told NPR's Morning Edition that leaders in the US -allied countries of Israel and Saudi Arabia are likely to advocate "a policy which goes back to status quo ante on Iran which is pushing Iran back in the Middle East".

Rouhani has had a tough time defending the 2015 nuclear deal and his opponents have accused him of not making good on his promises. President Donald Trump has repeatedly described it as "one of the worst deals ever signed", although his administration re-authorized waivers from sanctions this week. He is subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state.

Weeks-long campaigns whipped up heated emotions and pushed public debates among the 56-million-strong electorate in the country of 80 million. The closest it came to happening was in 2009, when allegations of ballot fraud in Ahmadinejad's narrow victory led to mass protests-the so-called Green Revolution-and a brutal government crackdown. Rouhani promised in his 2013 campaign to free the men, but that pledge so far remains unfulfilled.

Besides picking a President, Iranians were also voting to choose members of the country's city and village councils.



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