Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

All Four Candidates for Iranian Presidency Cast Ballots

All Four Candidates for Iranian Presidency Cast Ballots

Early election results are expected on Saturday.

Voting has been extended until 10 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET), Iran's Ministry of Interior said.

"The enthusiastic participation of Iranians in the election reinforces our national power and security", he said, as polling stations reported morning queues were far bigger than usual.

Rouhani remains faithful to Iran's theocratic system, in which the president's constitutional powers are limited, with overriding authority in the hands of the unelected Khamenei.

"If I, for instance, find the result undesirable, it should not lead to disruption of the election", he said.

"I respect the outcome of the vote of the people and the result will be respected by me and all the people", Raisi said after voting, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Raisi has even been discussed as a possible successor to him, though Khamenei has stopped short of endorsing anyone. Reformists and many celebrities in the nation of 80 million have backed Rouhani.

Reform-minded supporters recognize that Rouhani isn't flawless - he too, after all, is also a cleric.

In the last election, Rouhani won more than three times as many votes as his closest challenger.

Voter Mahya Kamalvan, 26, told CNN: "We can not complain if someone else is chosen. And then if anything happens the other way, maybe we can say something". When he was swept to office four years ago with three times as many votes as his nearest challenger, Iranians held high hopes that he could fulfil his promises to reduce the country's isolation overseas and bring more freedoms at home.As an establishment insider, he was intimately familiar with the policymaking process in Iran, where decisions by the elected government and parliament can be undone by the clerical judiciary that has ultimate say. It has always been clear what most Iranian voters want.

"Any candidate who is elected should be helped to accomplish this heavy responsibility", Rouhani said.

"When we fight with other countries, when we show an angry face to other countries, our economy will decrease little by little".

"I cast my vote already - I voted for Raisi because he is a follower of Imam Khamenei".

For younger, particularly urban Iranians, many of whom want more democracy and social freedoms nearly 40 years after the Islamic Revolution, Rouhani is the sole choice, even if it is one they're likely to make without real enthusiasm. But that might be harder if Mr Raisi has been rejected by Iranian voters.

But Rouhani won't necessarily benefit. I know he is not a reformist but who cares.

"I voted for Rouhani to prevent Raisi's victory".

Four candidates are running for presidency, namely, incumbent President Hasan Rouhani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Ayatollah Ebrahim Raeisi, former Vice President Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, and head of the Islamic Coalition Party's Central Council Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim.

Iranians vote on Friday for the next president of the Islamic Republic, but how does that elected leader fit into the country's clerically managed government that approves candidates ultimately overseen by its supreme leader?

His opponent says he will stick by the nuclear deal, but points to a persistent economic slump as evidence Rouhani's diplomatic efforts have failed. Debates have largely centered on this issue.

Iranians headed to the polls as soon as the stations opened to elect the country's 8th president. Since the deal went into effect, Iran has doubled its oil exports and inked multi-billion-dollar aircraft deals with Boeing and Airbus. Analysts have suggested a high turnout will aid Rouhani in securing a second four-year term.

The official unemployment rate is 12.5%, and much higher for the university-educated.

"All the growth in this country is dependent on relations with the other countries - European countries, United States, all the countries", he told CNN.

In Iran, where political speech is severely curtailed, newspapers and even social media channels are government regulated and protest comes with great personal risk, the quadrennial presidential election is an opportunity to blow off emotional steam, to act politically in the most public, and loud, of ways. "Freedom of association, and freedom of thought!"

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