Friday’s election in Iran was surprising on multiple fronts. Perceived reformer Hassan Rouhani won a majority of the vote in the first round, clinching the presidency to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has held that position since 2005. Iranians took to the streets in celebration during the weekend to recognize not only Rouhani’s unlikely victory with 50.7 percent of the vote, but also the process itself which, unlike 2009, did not appear to be rigged by the country’s ruling elites. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei likely felt pressure to give way to the majority rule due to the country’s economy, crippled by international sanctions, and the series of uprisings throughout the region. Protests that began in the Arab Spring in late 2010 continue to roil in countries such as neighboring Syria and Turkey.
Articles about voting issues in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Hassan Rouhani has hailed his election as Iran’s president as a “victory of moderation over extremism”. The reformist-backed cleric won just over 50% of the vote and so avoided the need for a run-off. Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran when the result was announced, shouting pro-reform slogans. The US expressed concern at a “lack of transparency” and “censorship” but praised the Iranian people and said it was ready to work with Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged continued international pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear programme. ”The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure on Iran for it to stop its nuclear programme,” Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to a statement released by his office.
Iranian officials spent Saturday tallying the votes the nation’s presidential election, with a surge of interest in the contest apparently swinging the tide in the favor of the most moderate candidate in the field. But with only a fraction of the vote counted, it was uncertain whether any single contestant would exceed the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff next week. With long lines at the polls Friday, voting hours were extended by five hours in parts of Tehran and four hours in the rest of the country. Turnout reached 75 percent, by official count, as disaffected members of the Green Movement, which was crushed in the uprising that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election, dropped a threatened boycott and appeared to coalesce behind a cleric, Hassan Rowhani, and the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf. Iran’s interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, said Saturday morning on state television that preliminary results showed Mr. Rowhani with a strong lead, followed by Mr. Ghalibaf. Mr. Najjar did not say when the final result would be available. Iran has more than 50 million eligible voters and as of late Saturday morning nearly eight million votes had been counted.
In the end, Iran’s presidential election may be defined by who doesn’t vote. Arguments over whether to boycott Friday’s ballot still boiled over at coffee shops, kitchen tables and on social media among many liberal-leaning Iranians on the eve of the voting. The choice, once easy for many who turned their back in anger after years of crackdowns, has been suddenly complicated by an unexpected chance to perhaps wage a bit of payback against Iran’s rulers. The rising fortunes of the lone relative moderate left in the race, former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, has brought a dilemma for many Iranians who faced down security forces four years ago: Stay away from the polls in a silent protest or jump back into the mix in a system they claim has been disgraced by vote rigging. Which way the scales tip could set the direction of the election and the fate for Rowhani, a cleric who is many degrees of mildness removed from being an opposition leader. But he is still the only fallback option for moderates in an election that once seemed preordained for a pro-establishment loyalist.
Tens of thousands of Gmail accounts belonging to Iranian users have been targeted in an extensive hacking campaign in the weeks leading up to the country’s closely watched presidential elections on Friday, Google Inc said on Wednesday. The U.S. Internet company, which described the attacks as broad “email-based phishing” attempts seeking to trick unsuspecting Gmail users into giving up their user names and passwords, said they originated in Iran and appeared to be “politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.”
Nearly 50 million people are eligible to vote in Friday’s elections in Iran – almost 70% from the capital, Tehran, and the major cities while about 30% of voters come from rural areas. There are nearly 70,000 polling stations and, according to the authorities, nearly one million people are involved in making sure the vote will go smoothly. All a voter needs to cast a ballot is his or her birth certificate, which will be stamped to show that they have voted. Also, they will have to press their thumbs into an ink pad to make sure there are no repeat voters. Voters will be given a ballot paper on which they will have to write the name of their candidate of choice. Those who cannot read or write will be helped by those inside the polling stations – this is always the cause of speculation as a source of irregularity.
Despite four years of non-stop pressure, arrests and intimidation, Iran’s dissidents still find ways to show their resilience. Protest messages still ricochet around social media despite Iran’s cyber cops’ attempts to control the Web. Angry graffiti pops up and then quickly painted over by authorities. Mourners at the funeral of a dissident cleric flashed V-for-victory gestures and chanted against the state. But just a look at the sidewalks around Tehran’s Mellat Park shows how far Iran’s opposition has fallen as the country prepares for Friday’s presidential election.
The 12-man Guardian Council, largely under the sway of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had already barred all but eight of the 686 people who registered as candidates, including pragmatic ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. That left four hardliners, separated only by small differences on issues such as Iran’s nuclear stand-off with the West, facing a lone independent outsider and two relative moderates who may be able to generate popular support. Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a close adviser to Khamenei related to him by marriage, had been one of three so-called “Principlist” conservative candidates alongside Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati before announcing on Monday he was dropping out.
The last time Iran had a presidential vote, millions took to the streets calling foul when the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was declared the winner. Four years on, the Islamic Republic has not yet fully recovered from the ensuing political heart-attack. After a year of demonstrations and repression, the battle for Iran’s future was won by Iran’s conservative hardliners loyal to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Their reformist rivals were sidelined: Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the thwarted reformists’ favourite who claimed to have won the 2009 election, remains under house arrest, along with a fellow candidate, Mehdi Karroubi. Politics, even within the confines of the Islamic state, is as polarised as ever. Now the reformists are pondering how to pick themselves up for another fight: the first round of the coming presidential poll, on June 14th. Eight candidates are running, following a purge of hundreds of other aspirants by the Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and lawyers, half of them appointed by Mr Khamenei. The council controversially barred a former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom reformers would probably have backed, from running. Two reform-minded candidates remain: Hassan Rohani and Muhammad Reza Aref, both of whom stayed silent during the tumult after the 2009 poll. The reformists are mulling over whether to throw in their lot with one of them.
Iran has witnessed a rare show of political dissent in the run-up to next week’s presidential election after mourners chanted anti-regime slogans at the mass funeral of a dissident cleric, according to amateur video footage. Chants of “death to the dictator” and “dictator, dictator, may your sleep be disturbed” were heard on videos of the funeral procession in Isfahan, Iran’s second city, following the death of Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, who died on Sunday, aged 87. The footage – whose authenticity cannot be verified – also contained chants in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, presidential candidates in the country’s fraud-tainted 2009 election, who have been under house arrest for more than two years. Marchers were heard on one video chanting: “Mousavi and Karroubi must be released.”