Reformist Sweeps Iran's Presidential Election

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 15 2013 1:00 PM

Iran Presidential Election Surprise: Reformist Candidate Wins Vote by Wide Margin

170529441
Iranian moderate presidential candidate, Hassan Rouhani flashes the sign of victory as he leaves a polling station after voting on Friday

Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE: Initial tallies were accurate. Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani easily won Iran's presidential election with a little more than 50 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off, reports Reuters. In all, 72 percent of Iran's 50 million eligible voters turned out to vote.

Original post: It seemed like everyone was willing to bet that one of the hardline candidates would easily win Iran’s presidential election. Turns out, conventional wisdom may have been way off. Reformist-backed candidate Hassan Rouhani, the only cleric but the most moderate of the six running for president, had more than 50 percent of the 27.5 million votes counted. That was far ahead of Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf with less than 16 percent, according to the BBC tally. If Rouhani finishes with more than 50 percent he would win in the first round and avoid a run off that was scheduled to be held next Friday. An expert tells the Washington Post that a runoff is highly likely. But even so, if Rouhani manages to win a clear plurality of the vote it would still mark a surprising defeat and repudiation of the conservatives that have ruled Iran for the past eight years.

Rouhani’s early lead suggests there is a high degree of reformist sentiment bubbling underneath the surface in Iran, points out Reuters. The big lead obtained by the former nuclear negotiator, along with early figures that estimate a high turnout of 75 percent, suggests liberals abandoned a planned boycott and backed Rouhani en masse. But even if Rouhani were to win in the first round “it would be more of a limited victory than a deep shake-up,” as the Associated Press puts it. Issues of national security, such as the country’s nuclear program, are controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But it could mark a change from the confrontational style of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and a Rouhani victory may just usher in “an age of moderation in the next four years,” according to the BBC’s Mohsen Asgari.

Advertisement

While careful to say they’d have to wait until the final tally for an assessment, Iran watchers could not hide their surprise at how much support reformers had managed to mobilize despite the government's restrictions on campaigning. “Everyone’s assumption was they would not be able to create a wave of voters in the society,” one expert tells the New York Times. “This outcome was not something planned by Ayatollah Khamenei.” British former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called it “a remarkable and welcome result so far,” adding that he was “keeping my fingers crossed that there will be no jiggery-pokery with the final result.” Months of unrest followed Iran’s 2009 elections amid widespread claims of fraud.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.