Hassan Rouhani wins Iran’s presidential elections
Hassan Rouhani, the only cleric running in the Iranian presidential elections, will succeed Mahmoud Ahamdinejad as President, Iran’s Interior’s Minister announced on Saturday.
Rouhani secured his place winning just over the 50% of the vote needed to avoid a runoff, which had an overall turnout of 72%.
His victory was an incredible surprise for many reformists who were desperate to break Ahmadinejad’s eight years of hardline presidency.
The newly elected Iranian President, among the eight candidates who were authorized to run for office, is seen as a moderate pro-reform figure.
According to the leading Middle-Eastern politics website Muftah, the Iranian elections saw a contest between six conservative and ultra-conservative candidates against the moderate conservative Rouhani and the reformist Mohammed Reza Aref, who withdrew before the elections to help the consolidation of the non conservative vote.
It is interesting to note that the Guardian Council disqualified over 600 candidates from running, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rouhani’s campaign was boosted by the endorsement of Rafsanjani, but also by the reformists led by the former president Mohammad Khatami.
Rouhani strongly criticized the departing Presidents Ahmadinejad’s government and has a long history of working with reformist leaders, according to the area expert Danile Tavana. This in turn may explain why the reformist Green Movement unanimously voted for him, despite the fact he actually wasn’t a declared reformist candidate.
The 65- year old president-elect was the Supreme National Security Council secretary from 1989 to 2005 and was in charge of nuclear negotiations. That time is remembered as the time when Iran froze its nuclear program, eased social restrictions and promoted a budding dialogue with the West.
Jack Straw, the former British foreign secretary, worked with Rouhani during nuclear negotiations and remembers him as “a strong Iranian patriot…. tough, but fair to deal with and always on top of his brief”.