Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Polls open in first Iran presidential vote since nuclear deal

Rouhani looks to beat hard-liner in another election India Tv U.S. treatment of Iran sets a double standard
Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 18:50

Rouhani, 68, who swept into office four years ago promising to open Iran to the world and give its citizens more freedom at home, faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from Ebrahim Raisi, a protege of supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

"If you want [Iran to become] Syria or Iraq, vote for Raisi".

Is Iran really a democracy?

In regards to Raisi, the Eurasia Group stated that "He lacks charisma and has put forward few concrete ideas on the economy, hurt by his very conservative background in the judiciary and his involvement in executions."An analysis entitled, "Iranian Elections: More than Just the Presidency", penned by Al-Sharq Forum expert Abdullah Yeğin affirmed that "The electoral process will have a wider influence than simply selecting a president".

Having proved too independent for the conservative establishment, Ahmadinejad was dramatically barred from standing by the Guardian Council last month as it disqualified all but six of the 1,636 people who signed up for the election. Many popular reformist candidates have been disqualified from running in recent elections.

Still, many appear willing to give his policies time to bear fruit, and hope Rouhani can lift the remaining USA sanctions that are stifling trade. Raisi is rumored to be the IRGC's preferred choice for supreme leader when Khamenei, 77, passes.

The 56-year-old cleric said Rowhani's long-praised nuclear deal with six world powers - which set up global controls over Iran's nuclear programme in return for the end of 10 years of economic sanctions - had brought nothing for Iran. Ghalibaf has also made interesting use of Iranians' historical memory by comparing the Rouhani administration to the Qajar dynasty-a corrupt and inept ruling class in league with Western embassies to push through concessions in Iran that benefit the West and Iranian elites, rather than the nation as a whole. The deal is considered the landmark of Rouhani's tenure and he will be keen to see it through.

His opponent says he will stick by the nuclear deal, but points to a persistent economic slump as evidence Rouhani's diplomatic efforts have failed.

How does the election work?

A run-off would be held next Friday if none of the candidates wins a majority, which is at least 50 percent plus one vote.

Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, Custodian of Imam Reza (AS) Holy shrine Ebrahim Raeisi, former minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mostafa Aqa Mirsalim and former Minister of Physical Education Mostafa Hashemi Taba are four candidates participating in the elections.

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Khatami served as president from 1997 to 2005, but was banned from speaking publicly after reformists joined widespread protests against disputed election results in 2009.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Iranians vote Friday for the next president of the Islamic Republic, but how does that elected leader fit into the country's clerically managed government that approves candidates ultimately overseen by its supreme leader?

"Poverty has increased with this government from 23 percent to 33 percent", said Raisi.

What are the issues?

Raisi has tapped into that frustration to attack Rohani for failing to translate the deal into better living standards for average Iranians. Iran's unemployment rate has hovered around 12 percent.

The IMF's outlook had predicted GDP growth of 6.6 per cent in 2016-17 due to an increase in oil production, after facing a contraction of 2 per cent in 2015-16.

The elderly man politely responded that Rouhani was right to cut back on subsidies, fix the country's finances and invest in infrastructure. Iran's hardline candidates continue to toe that line. But President Rouhani is banking on the appeal of continuity and stability.

The presidential election is underway in Iran. Rouhani remains the favorite of analysts as every Iranian president since Khamenei himself took the presidency in 1981 has won re-election.

Khamenei urged the Iranians to go to the polling stations for the vote at the earliest time.

For many in Iran, especially in affluent areas of the capital, Tehran, Rouhani has provided a glimpse of what many have long desired - engagement with the outside world, without the types of banking and visa restrictions, as well as economic sanctions - that left them feeling so isolated.

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