IRAN’S ROUHANI SWEEPS TO 2ND TERM
Moderate cleric won 57pc of votes compared with rival’s 38.3pc
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