Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has won re-election by a wide 57%-38% margin on Saturday, with 99% counted in what was supposed to be a tight race. Billed as a moderate cleric, the race for Rouhani’s potential second four-year term was dominated by the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama and John Kerry.
“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.”
The 68-year-old incumbent held an overwhelmingly lead over his closest opponent, the hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi. Vowing to fight corruption, unleash the economy and increase welfare to the poor, Raisi ran a populist campaign. He was close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but ultimately Iran’s supreme leader denied his endorsement and allowed Rouhani to remain the frontrunner.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced the vote tallies in a televised news conference. Rouhani reportedly earned 23.5 million votes out of 41.2 million ballots cast. Mostafa Mirsalim, a former culture minister, and Mostafa Hashemitaba, a pro-reform figure who previously ran for president in 2001, earned 478,000 and 215,000 votes each, respectively.
Iran has 56.4 million eligible voters.
Rouhani won the presidential election back in 2013 with only 51% of the vote.