Iran doubles down on moderate President Rouhani, who wins 2nd term by wide margin


Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin Saturday, giving the moderate cleric a second four-year term to see out his agenda pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The 68-year-old incumbent secured a commanding lead of 57 percent in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 voters to the polls. His nearest rival in the four-man race, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, secured 38 percent of the vote.

As Rouhani appeared close to victory, some female drivers held out the V for victory sign and flashed their car lights on highways in Tehran’s affluent north.

“We made the victory again. We sent back Raisi to Mashhad,” his conservative hometown in northeastern Iran, said Narges, a 43 year-old beauty salon owner, who declined to give her full name. She said she spent more than three hours outside waiting to vote, “but it was worth it.”

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced the vote tallies in a televised news conference, based on a count of more than 99 percent of the ballots. He said Rouhani garnered 23.5 million votes out of 41.2 million ballots cast. Iran has 56.4 million eligible voters.

In 2013, Rouhani won the presidential election with nearly 51 percent of the vote. Turnout for that vote was 73 percent.

Iran’s president is the second-most powerful figure within Iran’s political system. He is subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state.

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