A look at Iran's presidential candidates

Joanna Estrada
May 20, 2017

This round of election includes incumbent president Hassan Rouhani fighting for a second term, rivaled by conservative Ebrahim Raisi, with a career in the judiciary and now the superintendent of Iran's biggest religious tourism foundation in Mashhad, according to AzVision.

"Outside Tehran, people are having a really hard time, and our foreign policy should have more authority", said the cleric, a 20-year-old called Morteza.

Iranians overseas also will vote in over 300 locations, including 55 in the USA, where more than one million Iranians live.

But his main opponent Ebrahim Raisi, 56, has campaigned as a friend of the poor and called for a tougher line with the West.

A poll conducted by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) on May 7-9 suggested that Rouhani would get 42 percent of the votes in the first round, while Raisi may have 27 percent.

Two other candidates are also running for the presidency - conservative Mostafa Mirsalim and the reformer Mostafa Hashemitaba - but they are not expected to get more than a fraction of the vote.

Long lines had already formed at polling stations around the country.

It will not have escaped Mr Rouhani, however, that Mr Trump is visiting Iran's closest rival Saudi Arabia shortly and that the US President has also ordered a review of the controversial nuclear deal. Voting lasts from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., though authorities routinely keep polls open at least several hours later.

Rouhani, a cleric, says his moderate administration needs to continue its work to implement the nuclear deal. No woman has been approved to run for president. Iran's president is subordinate but still powerful, with considerable influence over both domestic policy and foreign affairs.

The race has heated emotions and pushed public discourse in Iran into areas typically untouched in the tightly controlled state media. During the campaign, Rouhani also increasingly has criticized Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary force answering only to Khamenei, something he so far has been hesitant to do while in office.

Rouhani has warned that hardliners must be kept away from Iran's diplomatic levers at a delicate moment in relations with the United States. He could pose the biggest challenge to Rouhani, especially if he can unify hard-liners.

That hasn't stopped those at Rouhani rallies from shouting for the house-arrested leaders of the 2009's Green Movement.

According to some reports, Raisi, who might replace Khamanei as the next supreme leader, entered the presidential race to enhance his chances for later winning the seat of the number one man in the regime.

He was followed by Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist, who pulled out to smooth the path for Rouhani.

Supporters of the two leading candidates honked, blared music and held pictures of the hopefuls out of vehicle windows on the traffic-clogged and heavily policed streets of Tehran late into the night Thursday, ignoring a ban on campaigning in the final 24 hours before the vote. "If turnout exceeds 70%, then we can talk about Rouhani's victory".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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