Rouhani expected to win Iran presidential election

Iranians determine future of reforms in presidential election

In contrast, his hard-line opponent Ebrahim Raisi - who is promising to boost handouts and subsidies - has styled himself as a voice of the poor and disenfranchised.

"I want social justice, social freedoms and political development, and good relations with all countries in the world", said Rouhani supporter Nasim, a 37-year-old university lecturer.

Out of the 40,076,729 votes cast, 38,914,470 ballots were declared valid.

One of Rouhani's major achievements is considered to be the landmark nuclear deal struck between Iran and five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany in 2015, which enabled the oil-rich country to escape most of the economic sanctions plaguing its economy and to boost oil production and exports.

Ahmad Majidyar, who leads the IranObserved Project at the Middle East Institute, believes that "many reformists are dismayed by the President's unwillingness to stand up to the country's judiciary and security establishment", meaning many may simply not bother to vote at all.

Khamenei had urged high turnout of the nation in the vote. "He kept the shadow of war far from our country".

The turnout may have spooked Raisi's camp, who filed a complaint to authorities over what they called "election violations" even before the polls closed, according to a report by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his vote. Raisi is the chief custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, a role assigned by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

"The main rival of [Rouhani's] Government is its four years of poor performance", Mr Raisi says.

Iran has no credible political polling to serve as harder metrics for the street buzz around candidates, who need more than 50 percent of the vote to seal victory and avoid a runoff.

Two other candidates are also in the race.

Preliminary results put Rouhani ahead with 14 million votes.

Hard-liners remain suspicious of America, decades after the 1953 U.S. -engineered coup that toppled Iran's prime minister and the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis in Tehran.

However, the election does not mean that Iran's next president will necessarily be able to carry out his campaign promises.

"Smart for them to realize any Iranians in the diaspora that have access to vote in what is a very tight election, in my opinion, with a chance of great amounts of fraud from the conservatives, who don't want to see Rouhani win - they are effectively helping Rouhani come to power."

All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists.

A number of 56, 410,000 people were eligible to case vote in the polls. But he remains subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state. State media offered no explanation. Former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, one of Iran's most popular and influential politicians, received 20m (69.6%) in 1997.

Iranian expatriates in 103 countries cast their ballots simultaneous with the big turnout at home.



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