Saturday, June 15, 2013

Early returns from Iran’s presidential election

One commentator said: “If [Rouhani] becomes Iran's new president, the country could witness an age of moderation in the next four years.”

Early results from Iran's presidential election put the reformist-backed candidate, Hassan Rouhani, in the lead.

Official figures give him just over half the 16 million votes counted so far - well ahead of second-placed Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Mr Rouhani could win in the first round if he finishes with more than 50%.

Electoral officials said turnout was high among the 50 million Iranians eligible to vote on Friday for a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

His eight years in power have been characterised by economic turmoil and Western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Surge of support
Final results are expected later in the day.

Preliminary figures began to emerge early on Saturday after a delay of several hours.

Officials at the election headquarters said that with more than 16,716,937 votes counted so far - 16,166,392 of them valid:

Hassan Rouhani has 8,439,530 (50.5%)
Mr Qalibaf is in second place with 2,560,383
Mohsen Rezai lies third with 2,101,330, followed by Saeed Jalili on 1,890,462.

State TV channels said the winning candidate needed more than 50% of all ballots cast, including invalid ones, Reuters news agency reported.

Voting was extended by five hours on Friday evening to allow more people to cast their ballots. Iranian Press TV said turnout was 80%.

Although all six candidates are seen as conservatives, analysts say Mr Rouhani - a 64-year-old cleric often described as "moderate" who has held several parliamentary posts and served as chief nuclear negotiator - has been reaching out to reformists in recent days.

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