TEHRAN – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a decisive re-election victory on Saturday as voters acknowledged his efforts to rebuild foreign ties and kickstart the struggling economy.
As reported by Tribune, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli confirmed the result on state television, saying Rouhani had won 23.5 million votes – 57 percent – compared to 15.8 million – 38.3 percent – for hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi.
Turnout in the re-elections was unprecedentedly 73 percent on Friday which forced authorities to extend polling by several hours.
“I congratulate the great victory of the Iranian nation in creating a huge and memorable epic in the continuation of the path of ‘wisdom and hope’,” tweeted Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, referring to the government’s slogan.
Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, framed the election as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”.
Hardline cleric Raisi, 56, had positioned himself as a defender of the poor and called for a much tougher line with the West.
But his revolutionary rhetoric and efforts to win over working-class voters with promises of increased handouts gained limited traction.
“Rouhani’s vote, particularly in rural areas, shows that Iranian people no longer believe in economic populism and radical change,” said Ali Vaez, Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think-tank.
“They have the maturity to understand that the solution to their country’s predicaments is incompetent management of the economy and moderation in international relations,” Vaez told AFP.