Rohani Ahead In First Official Results In Iranian Presidential Election

Elias Hubbard
May 20, 2017

Ali Asghar Ahmad, the head of the election committee, had told Iranian state TV in the morning that almost 26 million votes of the total 40 million votes cast on Friday have been counted, with Rouhani getting 14.6 million votes and his closest rival, Ebrahim Raisi, obtaining 10.1 million votes.

More than 40 million Iranian voters flocked to polling stations Friday, and by Saturday morning more than 25 million votes had been counted, according to the head of Iran's Interior Ministry State Elections Committee.

His nearest challenger is hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, with 15.5 million votes.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry reported that over 40 million ballots were cast by Iranians on Friday, indicating a turnout of 70 percent.

Iran counts ballots in presidential voteBallots are being counted in an Iranian presidential election that could alter Tehran's foreign policy.

Iranians have begun voting in a closely-fought presidential election that could determine Iran's pace of social and economic reform and its re-engagement with the world.

Rohani, who oversaw the breakthrough nuclear deal with world powers to ease global sanctions, has promised engagement with the West and more freedom for Iranians. The elections are also for city and village councils. Polling stations had been due to close at 8pm local time but due to the turnout, voting hours were extended until midnight.

Iran has no credible political polling to serve as harder metrics for the street buzz around candidates, who need more than 50 percent of the vote to seal victory and avoid a runoff.

Meanwhile, Raisi has promised to triple cash handouts to the poor, hoping to pick up voters who once supported Rouhani's populist predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranians overseas were also voting in over 300 locations, including 55 in the US, where more than 1 million Iranians live.

However, Rouhani has history on his side: no sitting president has failed to win a second term since 1981.

The big turnout could favour Rouhani, whose backers' main worry has been apathy among reformist-leaning voters disappointed with the slow pace of change.

Abadpour said he meant to cast his vote based upon which candidate won the support of friends and family living in Iran.

In fact, the US added some fresh sanctions against Iran this week, so the signs are that things are about to get decidedly frosty.

Rouhani has urged the Guards not to meddle in the vote, a warning that reflects the political tension. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds arrested, human rights groups say, in the worst unrest to hit the Islamic Republic. He is subordinate to the country's supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state. No woman has ever been approved to run for president. The two figures, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, both endorsed Raisi, as did Mohammad Khatami, another reformist who served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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