Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cruised to victory in Iran’s presidential elections held Friday.

Rouhani received 57 percent of the vote, easily defeating his primary challenger Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, who came in second with 38.5 percent, according to Iranian state media. By winning reelection, Rouhani secured a second four-year term as president.

The Iranian government is part theocracy and part democracy. The head of state is an unelected religious leader, but the country has an elected president and parliament.

Iran’s Guardian Council vets candidates and ousts those it does not see fit to hold office. The Guardian Council approved six candidates to run in Friday’s presidential election. Two of the candidates withdrew, backing Rohuani and Raeisi instead.


Elections in Iran are characterized in the West as battles between hardliners and reformists. Iranian hardliners, also known as conservatives, maintain stricter stances on issues relating to Shia Islam, the official religion of the country. They also oppose establishing closer relations with the West, and particularly the United States.

Rouhani is widely viewed as a reformist, or moderate. Raeisi is considered a conservative, or hardliner, and his name has been floated as a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

During Rouhani’s first presidential term, he compiled a negotiating team that reached a deal with world powers on restricting Iran’s nuclear program. As a result, most western sanctions on Iran were lifted, allowing Iranian oil to return to world markets.

Following the nuclear deal, Iran’s economy grew, and Rouhani pursued trade deals and investment from foreign multinationals. However, much of Iran’s recent economic growth has been limited to the oil sector, and the economy remains sluggish in the eyes of many observers.

Additionally, the future of the nuclear deal is unclear. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed during the recent American presidential campaign to “rip up” the nuclear deal. But Trump has yet to act on the promise since entering the White House.

Ayatollah Ali Khameni

On Friday, more than 41 million of Iran’s 56 million eligible voters turned out for the election. The high voter turnout led to the extension of voting hours and some polling stations remaining open until late in the night.

Though the candidate considered to be his preferred choice lost, Supreme Leader Khameni issued a statement on Saturday commending Iranians on the high voter turnout.

“The winner of yesterday’s elections is you, the Iranian people, and the Islamic establishment, which has managed to win the increasing trust of this big nation despite the enemies’ plot and effort,” Khameni said.

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