Mod­er­ate cleric won 57pc of votes com­pared with ri­val’s 38.3pc

New Straits Times - - World -


PRES­I­DENT Has­san Rouhani won a re­sound­ing vic­tory yes­ter­day as vot­ers over­whelm­ingly backed his ef­forts to reach out to the world and re­build the strug­gling econ­omy.

Rouhani, a 68-year-old mod­er­ate cleric who spear­headed a 2015 nu­clear deal with world pow­ers, took 23.5 mil­lion votes (57 per cent) com­pared with 15.8 mil­lion (38.3 per­cent) for hard­line chal­lenger Ebrahim Raisi.

But Iran’s ef­forts to open up to the world face a chal­lenge from United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has threat­ened to tear up the nu­clear deal.

Ira­ni­ans, nonethe­less, flocked to the polls, with turnout hit­ting 73 per cent. Elec­tion or­gan­is­ers were forced to ex­tend polling by sev­eral hours on Fri­day, as they strug­gled to adapt to a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion that has added 20 mil­lion names to the vot­ing rolls.

“Al­ready last night we had the feel­ing we were head­ing for a land­slide, and it came true,” said Farid De­hdi­lani, an ad­viser for the Iranian Privatisation Or­gan­i­sa­tion, who worked on Rouhani’s cam­paign. "Our peo­ple reaf­firmed their con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Rouhani and their sup­port for en­gage­ment with the world," he added.

Raisi, 56, had po­si­tioned him­self as a de­fender of the poor and called for a much tougher line with the West. But his rev­o­lu­tion­ary rhetoric and ef­forts to win over work­ing class vot­ers with prom­ises of in­creased hand­outs gained lim­ited trac­tion.

“Rouhani's vote, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas, shows that Iranian peo­ple no longer be­lieve in eco­nomic pop­ulism and rad­i­cal change,” said Ali Vaez, Iran an­a­lyst for the In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group, a think tank. AFP

Has­san Rouhani

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