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Moderate Rohani Wins Iranian Presidential Election

Iranian moderate presidential candidate Hassan Rohani (center) flashes the sign of victory as he leaves a polling station after voting  in Tehran on June 14.
Iranian moderate presidential candidate Hassan Rohani (center) flashes the sign of victory as he leaves a polling station after voting in Tehran on June 14.

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Photogallery Rohani Win Signals Desire For Change

As Iranians took to the streets to celebrate Hassan Rohani's victory, analysts said the cleric's win in the presidential vote demonstrated public will for a move toward more moderate politics in Iran.
Iran's Interior Ministry has announced moderate candidate Hassan Rohani has won the country's presidential election.

Interior Minister Mohammad Mostafa Najjar announced on television on June 15 that Rohani had received 18.6 million votes, or 50.68 percent of the ballots, sufficient to win outright, avoiding the need for a second round of elections.

Rohani was far ahead of the five other candidates running for president, with his closest rival, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, receiving less than 16 percent of the vote.

Interior Minister Najjar said 36.7 million people, or 72.7 percent of the country's total electorate, cast ballots in the June 14 election.

Authorities extended voting hours several times. Iran is estimated to have 50 million eligible voters. 

Voters were choosing between six candidates to replace President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has served the maximum two consecutive terms. All six were approved to campaign by the conservative, unelected Guardians Council.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Twitter on June 15 that a vote for any of the six candidates in the presidential race is a "vote of confidence in the system."

No international observers came to Iran to monitor the election process.

WATCH: Iranians across the country and abroad celebrate Hassan Rohani's election victory.
Rohani Supporters Celebrate Iran Election Victoryi
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June 15, 2013
Iranian voters weary of years of economic isolation and tightening political restrictions threw down a blunt demand for change on June 15 by handing a moderate cleric a landslide victory in a presidential election. Millions of Iranians at home and abroad greeted Hassan Rohani's victory with a mix of euphoria and relief that eight years under hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad were finally over. State television showed large crowds marching through the streets of the capital, with similar displays of jubilation reported in other cities, including Mashhad, Zanjan, and Qom. (Reuters)

Interviews conducted by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda indicated Rohani was a favorite among most people such as this listener: "I voted for Rohani and I'm happy he is leading in the vote count."

Another Radio Farda listener expressed gratitude to former Presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami who supported Rohani in the presidential campaign.

"I am grateful to Mr. Rafsanjani and Khatami who supported Mr Rohani, and led the nation toward the right path. I hope Mr. Rohani will make Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami proud."

But one listener in the city of Shiraz indicated the authorities had made it difficult to show support for Rohani.

"I live in Shiraz. Law enforcement forces have the city under strict control. If someone comes out to express their solidarity to Rohani, the law enforcement forces try to prevent them."

And another voter in Shiraz said Rohani faces a challenge trying to address the country’s many problems.

"Even if Mr. Rohani wins the presidency, and even he stays in office for ten years, he would still be not able to repair what was done during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. The country is a very bad shape now, and it takes time to fix things."

PHOTO GALLERY: Iranians Go To The Polls To Elect A New President
  • Clerics wait to vote in Qom.
  • Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad casts his ballot.
  • Presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati shows his ink-stained finger as he votes at a polling station in Tehran.
  • Former President Mohammad Khatami casts his vote at a polling station in Tehran.
  • Women wait to vote at a polling station at the Massoumeh shrine in the holy city of Qom.
  • Ali Larijani casts his ballot in Tehran.
  • Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani votes in Tehran.
  • Said Jalili casts his ballot at a polling station in southern Tehran.
  • Said Jalili prays at the tomb of Shah Abdolazim before voting.

Enforcing The Leader's Will

In the Islamic republic's political system, Iran's supreme leader, not the president, holds the ultimate decision-making power -- including commanding the army, directing foreign policy, and overseeing projects such as Iran's nuclear program.

Candidate Rohani has recently backed greater freedom of expression and pledged to free political prisoners.

He is also a former chief nuclear negotiator for Iran and supports the continuation of the country's controversial nuclear program. Many Western states say the program is being used as cover for building a nuclear weapon.

Former Iranian Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as well as the supreme leader's younger brother, Hadi Khamenei, have thrown their support behind Rohani.

Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist, received approval to campaign but withdrew from the race earlier this week to increase Rohani's chances of winning.

After casting his vote in Tehran, Khamenei dismissed those who questioned the democratic nature of the election.

"I recently heard that someone from America's National Security Council said, ‘We don't accept this election in Iran.' Well, to hell with you if you don't accept it," Khamenei said.

Khamenei did not make clear whom he was referring to. But last month U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cast doubt on the credibility of the election following the disqualification of hundreds candidates, including those whom observers considered potential reformers and all the women who wanted to run.

Kerry criticized what he called a "lack of transparency" in the election process and said the disqualifications were "based solely on who represents the regime's interests."

With reporting by Press TV, Reuters, AP, and AFP

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