Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was reelected to a second term by a landslide, the interior minister declared Saturday, presenting him a resounding endorsement of his plans to end Iran’s pariah status and rejoin the global economy. With 57 percent of the vote, Rouhani defeated his hard-line rival, Ebrahim Raisi, who had the backing of the ruling clergy and allied security forces. He also won a clear mandate to push through domestic reforms and pursue talks with the West, building on the nuclear deal he negotiated with world powers. That agreement, which Rouhani and his cabinet clinched during his first term, constrains Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for international sanctions relief.
“The landslide victory gives Rouhani a mandate he did not have during his first term,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group, a political risk firm.
“He’ll remain a centrist,” Kupchan said. But “will be more aggressive in pursuing reforms.”
Rouhani and his reformist backers also dealt a devastating blow to Iranian conservatives, most of whom supported Raisi and scoff at the soft power of the incumbent leader’s diplomacy.