Rouhani wins re-election in landslide victory over conservative opponent

Without Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's support, the incumbent Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani wins re-election with 57% of the vote, receiving 7 million more votes than his Khamenei-approved conservative rival, Ebrahim Raisi.
Hassan Rouhani Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

A few hours after the polling stations in the Islamic Republic of Iran were closed, the state's official media announced on Saturday the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory in the presidential elections. According to the results, Rouhani won 23.5 million votes (57%), 7 million more than his conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi (38.5%)

This crushing victory for Rouhani will effectively cancel any possibility of another round of elections since he received more than 50 percent of the vote. With the polls closed, Iranian Minister of Interior Abdolreza Rahmanifazli announced that 41.2 million votes were cast in the elections, with an estimated 70% overall voter turnout.

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Rouhani was first elected four years ago promising to lessen Iran’s isolation from the world and is considered to hold relatively moderate positions. Rouhani led Iran's nuclear agreement with the world’s superpowers and in the recent elections he has garnered the support of the young and moderate who seek to rehabilitate Iran's relations with the world.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Rouhani ran in this election without the support of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who preferred Raisi, a conservative and particularly radical cleric. Raisi, known as the "Hangman" after he sent thousands of political prisoners to the gallows in 1988, was even brought up in the past as a potential candidate to replace Khamenei as Supreme Leader after his death. Furthermore, Raisi questioned the effectiveness of the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the West, and spoke of his doubts before the elections.

The assessment throughout the West was that if Rouhani was elected again, Iran, under his headship, would continue in the direction it has been heading in recent years, one that is more open to the West. However, since the system of government is a combination of theocracy, dictatorship and democracy, the last word in the country is not that of the president but of the Supreme Leader who not only chooses the presidential candidates, but disqualifies anyone who wants to drastically change anything in the country.



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