Reformist Hassan Rouhani wins Iran presidential election

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Hassan Rouhani, the sole reformist candidate in Iran’s presidential election, has won the Iranian presidential election, according to state-run Press TV.

The election was marked by a high turnout – 72.7 per cent of the country’s 50 million registered voters.

The cleric and former nuclear negotiator with Western powers enjoyed a surge in support during the last week of the campaign. There is now no need for a two-man run off, which would have taken place on Friday.

Iran’s 50 million electors appear to have taken the opportunity to tell the theocracy in Tehran that runs the Islamic Republic that they had had enough of eight years of antagonising the West under outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani has called for a different approach to negotiations with Western powers, especially over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, which the United States, European Union and others say is intent on building a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it is for peaceful means.

At 2pm Tehran time, the establishment favourite and early frontrunner Saeed Jalili conceded that he was out of the race. Later the Ministry of the Interior announced that with 27 million votes counted, Mr Rouhani led on just over 50 per cent of the votes counted, with the Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, emerging as the leading conservative on 15.8 per cent. Mr Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator trailed in fourth place on just 11.3 per cent.

Analysts had suggested that Rouhani’s early lead may be exaggerated given that initial results were largely from Metropolitan centres, which tend to back liberal candidates. His lead, though strong, did fall as results from rural areas began to be declared.

Interior Minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, said the final result would be announced by late Saturday. The high turnout suggests that a planned boycott by moderates evaporated, possibly after support massed around Rouhani.

The election of Rouhani is a victory for moderates, many of whom took to the streets after Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009. As thousands were still queuing to vote, Ahmadinejad’s overwhelming victory was announced. Within days tens of thousands took to the streets of Iran’s major cities in demonstrations that became known as the Green Movement. The standoff lasted for days before the ruling clerics, led by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who lost patience and ordered the security forces to clear the streets. The following clashes led to several deaths and later the imprisonment and house arrest of many of the movement’s leadership.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term has been marked by international isolation over Iran’s nuclear policies, and subsequently economic ruin that has followed tough sanctions on its oil and financial industries.

He has also become bitterly unpopular among the Khamenei’s inner circle after challenging its authority and when the loyalist Guardian Council announced the approved list of presidential candidates last month – six men from an original shortlist of nearly 700 – Ahmadinejad’s chosen successor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, was notably absent.

With a doctorate from Glasgow University, Rouhani led the influential Supreme National Security Council and was given the highly sensitive nuclear envoy role in 2003, a year after Iran’s 20-year-old atomic programme was first revealed. During negotiations with the West, which are now more than a decade old, Mr Rouhani became a respected and well liked figure, despite the seemingly endless discord between the two sides.

“Rouhani is not an outsider and any gains by him do not mean the system is weak or that there are serious cracks,” Rasool Nafisi, an Iranian affairs analyst at Strayer University in the US, told the Associated Press. “The ruling system has made sure that no one on the ballot is going to shake things up.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. Lets hope that the hard line Muzzies let him get on with it and don't mix up their stupid assed religion with politics.

  2. if USA and any other secular Jewish Christian state has right to implement laws and rules of their own choice in their states so is the right of every other Muslim states as well .. no one should be allowed to interfere into matters of others..

  3. I hope this one doesn't send troops to Syria to support evil Alawite government ……& to murder innocent majority there.

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