Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

What Russia Has to Say About Presidential Election in Iran

What Russia Has to Say About Presidential Election in Iran

As Iran prepares to vote in its twelfth presidential election, Hassan Rouhani, the current incumbent, is facing decisive opposition to his reelection bid.

To cast a ballot, they must go to one of 63,500 polling centres set up around the country in mosques, schools and other public buildings.

The official Iran Newspaper has estimated that 20 million voters by 16:00 local time (GMT+4:30) participated in the ongoing presidential election.

As previous elections cited above, Iranians will have the choice between two main candidates, the current president of Iran, Hassan Rohani, considered as a moderate and Ebrahim Raisi, former Attorney General of Iran and represents the conservative side.

The Guards hope that a win for Raisi will give them an opportunity to claw back economic and political power lost in Shi'ite Iran's complex theocratic and republican governing structure since 2015, when Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers that brought it out of global isolation. Ahmadinejad, who ran on a populist platform that sought to redistribute wealth across Iranian society, had no interest in curtailing Iran's nuclear program and questioned Israel's right to exist. After registration as presidential contenders, which should be done in a 5-day period one month before the election day, the names and credentials of candidates is taken to the Guardian Council.

After casting his ballot, Rouhani said whomever the voters elect as president should receive all of the nation's support.

In part because he favors more liberalization of Iran's economy and greater engagement with the West, Rouhani has broad support among Iran's youth, who want more civil liberties and less government intrusion in their private lives.

Raisi is widely seen as Khamenei's preferred candidate - indeed, he is often mentioned as his possible successor. Iran's president is subordinate but still powerful, with considerable influence over both domestic policy and foreign affairs.

"One wrong decision by the president can mean war and a correct decision can mean peace", he said at his own Mashhad rally. "We're not opposed, but do not crowd out other people".

In the 1980s he helped sentence thousands of political prisoners to death.

If no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the votes, a run-off will be held on May 26 between the top two vote-getters. The nuclear deal was essentially a bet by the United States that Iran would change over a decade and lose its appetite to pursue nuclear weapons.

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

But the benefits have been largely limited by a fall in global oil prices and US President Donald Trump's election, which introduced uncertainty for investors - Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the deal.

Although Rouhani has an incumbent's advantage, his promised economic revival is seen by many as having fallen short of his stated goals, and he has been the target of unceasing and strong allegations of corruption.

An independent poll showed Rohani almost 20 points ahead of Raisi on the eve of the vote, although polling is notoriously unreliable in Iran and many voters reportedly remained undecided.

For voter Hassan Rahmani, 34, in northern Tehran, maintaining good relations is key to Iran's future. "Now my colleagues can travel to France and the U.S.", she said.

He is thought to have the tacit backing of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the final authority in Iran's peculiar blend of democracy and theocracy.

The Tudeh Party of Iran's assessment is that with each stage-managed election the theocratic regime's avenues of recourse, with regard to its growing internal and external crises, are becoming more limited and its inherent contradictions more pronounced - with the Iranian people no longer able to be placated through a process of choosing between different types of president all ultimately subservient to a reviled dictatorship.

A supporter of Mir Hossein Mousavi hides her face using a poster of him during an election rally in Tehran, Iran, in 2009. "If you want peace, security, and freedom, vote for Rohani", a listener told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

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