Iran goes polls as 'Outsider' Rouhani seeks to liberalize country

Preliminary results put Rouhani ahead with 14 million votes. Raisi is usually second with 10 million votes.

More than 40 million Iranian voters flocked to polling stations Friday, in addition to by Saturday morning more than 25 million votes had been counted, according to the head of Iran’s Indoor Ministry State Elections Committee.

His closest opponent is usually conservative cleric Raisi, who has cast doubt on the benefits of the nuclear deal.

Some polling stations remained open as late as midnight local time (3:30 p.m. ET) because of high voter turnout, Iran’s Ministry of Indoor said. sy88pgw journalists in Tehran reported seeing long lines as voters apparently heeded calls for a big turnout.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast his ballot in addition to urged others to do the same. “I believe which the presidential election is usually very important. The fate of the country is usually inside hands of people,” he said.

Raisi is usually widely seen as Khamenei’s preferred candidate — indeed, he is usually often mentioned as his possible successor.

Rouhani, meanwhile, is usually essentially running for re-election as an outsider, in addition to is usually backed by Iran’s reformist camp.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote inside 2017 election.

For many in Iran, especially in affluent areas of the capital, Tehran, Rouhani has provided a glimpse of what many have long desired — engagement with the outside world, without the types of banking in addition to visa restrictions, as well as economic sanctions — which left them feeling so isolated.

Reform-minded supporters recognize which Rouhani isn’t perfect — he too, after all, is usually also a cleric. although he’s widely seen by reformers as their best wish for change.

Iranians queue to cast their ballots in presidential elections in Tehran on May 19, 2017.

A sy88pgw crew in north Tehran, where there are a lot of moderate Rouhani supporters, saw long lines all day at one polling station, with some people waiting up to three hours to vote despite the scorching heat.

Voter Mahya Kamalvan, 26, told sy88pgw: “We cannot complain if someone else is usually chosen. We have to prove which we are here, we support what we want. in addition to then if anything happens the additional way, maybe we can say something.”

Medical student Yasaman Allahgholy, 22, waits to vote in North Tehran on Friday.

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

“I am young, in addition to I want to live in a more free country. To show what I think without fearing coming from being in jail or something like which,” she said.

“When we fight with additional countries, when we show an angry face to additional countries, our economy will decrease little by little. So which’s truly important for me to participate in which election, for my future.”

“which’s the reason why I have [waited] about one hour in which line, in which hot weather.”

Conservative frontrunner

Should Raisi win, Iran is usually required to retreat coming from the kind of nascent international engagement seen during Rouhani’s first term, that has a focus on growing its economy internally rather than looking for direct foreign investment.

Raisi’s history may deter some voters — the 56-year-old cleric was a member of the so-called “Death Commission,” which presided over the summary executions of thousands of political prisoners inside summer of 1988.

although Rouhani won’t necessarily benefit.

Iranians queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Tehran.

Ahmad Majidyar, who leads the IranObserved Project at the Middle East Institute, believes which “many reformists are dismayed by the President’s unwillingness to stand up to the country’s judiciary in addition to security establishment,” meaning many may simply not bother to vote at all.

In a tight contest, a traditionally high turnout among conservatives could be enough to give Raisi victory.

However, Rouhani has history on his side: no sitting president has failed to win a second term since 1981.

Official results, which will be announced by Iran’s Ministry of Indoor, are not expected until later which weekend. If no one candidate achieves an absolute majority — over 50% of the vote — a runoff will take place on May 26.

Read: Rouhani promises change in Iran

The key issues

The President has had a tough time defending the 2015 nuclear deal in addition to his opponents have accused him of not doing not bad on his promises. Debates have largely centered on which issue.

Rouhani billed the deal as one which would certainly thrust open the gates of economic opportunity, bring the country out of its isolation in addition to create millions of jobs for Iranians.

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The agreement has brought a string of billion dollar deals with Western firms for airplanes in addition to oil exploration in Iran.

although the benefits have been largely limited by a fall in global oil prices in addition to US President Donald Trump’s election, which introduced uncertainty for investors — Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the deal. For the average Iranian, the results have been lackluster, in addition to Raisi has jumped upon which accusing Rouhani of sacrificing Iran’s sovereignty for a fool’s bargain.

Unemployment remains high — although which fell during Rouhani’s first term — in addition to growth is usually middling.

The official unemployment rate is usually 12.5%, in addition to much higher for the university-educated. although since the Iranian government counts anyone who works just one hour a week as employed, according to Hamed Mousavi of Tehran University, the true overall number is usually likely well over 20%.

Rouhani stated the choice facing Iranians simply: “Our nation will announce if which continues on the path of peacefulness, or if which wants to choose tension.”

For voter Hassan Rahmani, 34, in northern Tehran, maintaining not bad relations is usually key to Iran’s future.

“All the growth in which country is usually dependent on relations with the additional countries — European countries, United States, all the countries,” he told sy88pgw.

Ershan Nasroudi, 35, voiced a similar view. “We see which if you want to have a safe economy, if you want to have a better life for the people, you have to have relations with additional countries,” he said.

In Iran, where political speech is usually severely curtailed, newspapers in addition to even social media channels are government regulated in addition to protest comes with great personal risk, the quadrennial presidential election is usually an opportunity to blow off emotional steam, to act politically inside most public, in addition to loud, of ways.

At a campaign rally last week at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Rouhani took to the stage in addition to delivered a speech more worthy of an outsider than the incumbent.

Standing behind a lectern in addition to surveying the sea of purple — his campaign coloration — before him, Rouhani promised much.

“We want freedom of the press,” he declared. “Freedom of association, in addition to freedom of thought!”

However, his supporters will be aware which even if re-elected, what Rouhani can achieve may be limited by the authority wielded by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, in addition to by institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran goes polls as 'Outsider' Rouhani seeks to liberalize country

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