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The Iran Primer

Election: Diverse Iranian Press Reaction

      The Iranian press issued both praise and warnings after the election of Hassan Rouhani. In their editorials, reformist publications said the victory by a moderate cleric reflected a rejection of the status quo in politics, the economy and foreign policy. Newspapers heralded the beginning of a new era. The conservative press said the high turnout proved the popularity and legitimacy of Iran’s unique form of theocratic rule and the “ineffectiveness” of sanctions. But hardline commentators also warned that the stunning outcome did not mean Iran would accept “foreign hegemony.” The following is a collection of editorials translated by the BBC Monitoring Service.  

Editorial in reformist daily Mardom Salari
            "The vote for Hassan Rouhani is a sign that people reject the current state of affairs and want to remove power from the fundamentalists... It was a vote for his two great supporters, [disqualified candidates] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami... The other main message is the public's interest in changing the way nuclear negotiations are carried out."
Commentary in reformist daily E'temad
            "People have shown that they disagree with the country's foreign policy over the last eight years, which has led to four [UN] resolutions against Iran... Dissatisfaction over the disqualification of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani also gave a boost to Rouhani."
Commentary in reformist daily E'temad
            "A new political landscape has been created... This opportunity could result in political prisoners being freed and the lifting of the siege on [reformist] presidential election candidates from 2009 and basic steps toward reforming the economy."
Commentary in reformist daily Bahar
            "Even reformism is going toward moderation and the centre... Both sides must move toward the centre and protect the country's political atmosphere from radicalisation."
Commentary in reformist daily Sharq
            "The new president must take control of the economic plan... and start the engine of production, employment, and growth."
Commentary in reformist daily Sharq
            Conservatives "should not be dissatisfied with this outcome, because the dominant discourse in the election was that of moderation, which is also among their main objectives."
Editorial in moderate daily Aman
            "The economic burden on the have-nots, unprecedented unemployment and price increases are among the reasons for the high turnout. The impact of economic sanctions is key. It seems that people voted for Rouhani to express their wish for moderate, peaceful policies."
Editorial in hardline conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami
            The vote represents "the acceptance of moderation and the rejection of extremist thought... Moderation does not mean accepting international hegemony and ignoring the rights of the Iranian nation."
Commentary in hardline conservative daily Javan
            "The Islamic Republic has passed this election test in a proper way... The winner should learn from the Ahmadinejad years and the reformist era and not follow the same path. Rather, he should address the concerns of the people."
Commentary in hardline conservative daily Keyhan
            "Enemy think tanks are in a spin... Their mistake was in ignoring the depth of the people's belief in the Islamic System... The election proved the ineffectiveness of sanctions... [It] also showed the world that there was no vote rigging and fraud in the free elections."
Editorial in conservative daily Khorasan
            "The participation of 72.7% of eligible voters indicates that the people followed the Supreme Leader's [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] call for an epic political act to protect the country and the Islamic system."

Election: Stunning Results and Videos

            Hassan Rouhani, the lone reformist candidate, won Iran’s presidential election with 50.7 percent of the vote. The cleric avoided the need for a run-off by securing more than half of the nearly 37 million votes. Mohammad Baqer-Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran, came in at a distant second with less than 17 percent, followed by Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Gharazi. The interior ministry reported a high turnout of about 73 percent and declared about 1.2 million ballots invalid. The following chart reflects the final results.  












            The following is a  video of the results announcement with English subtitles.

The following video shows Rouhani's supporters celebrating in the streets of Shiraz, a major southwestern city. 




Vote Day News: Khamenei blasts US, Pictures from polls

  • Fars News posts photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei casting the first ballot of the day and saying, “The fate of the country and the prosperity of the nation are dependent on the participation and the people’s selection, and the nation’s votes are trusted in the hands of the election officials.”
  • Mehr News reports former candidate Mohammed Reza Aref predicting that over 70% of the people will vote in the presidential election and that “the election will be stretched to a second round run-off vote.” Mehr News posts a series of photos of former candidate Mohammed Reza Aref who voted early in the morning alongside his wife at the crowded Hosseiniyeh Ershad Mosque, which has symbolic value for Iranian reformists. Aref was asked what candidates should do once the election is over. Aref responded, “They should thank those who worked for alongside them and congratulate the victor.”
  • ISNA posts photos of former president Mohammed Khatami enthusiastically voting today. Photos of Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Ali Akbar Velayati, and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani were all posted as well.   
  • Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani voted at the Imam Askari Mosque in the city of Qom today and afterwards said, “Today Iran is faced with cruel and international pressure, and the power of the participation of the people has given the system double the amount of energy, which will provide fundamental changes to our international situation.” ISNA posted photos of Larijani voting today.
  • The governor of Tehran announced that there will be 12,000 officials supervising the polling stations around the country for the presidential and local city elections.
  • Fars News posts a series of photos of election officials with their security escorts delivering ballot boxes to their respective polling stations. Mehr News posts photos of ballot box distribution as well.
  • ISNA posts photos of the Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic voting today, photos of current candidate Mohammed Gharazi, as well as photos of former candidate Gholam Reza Hadad Adel voting.
  • Fars News posts a set of photos of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi voting today in the city of Qom, as well as photos of the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, voting in a neighborhood near the University of Imam Sadegh in Tehran.
  • ISNA posts six sets of photos of Iranians voting in Tehran. Set one,  Set two, Set three, Set four, Set five, Set six.

Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani at the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars offers the latest news on the 2013 Iranian presidential election, based on a selection of Iranian news sources. Click here for a pdf version.


Latest on the Race: Final Polls – and Shifts

            Iranian elections are highly unpredictable due to the number of candidates and short campaigns. Polls for the 2013 presidential race were initially all over the map. But some polls now indicate that the two leading candidates are Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf. The other four are Mohammad Gharazi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Akbar Velayati. Not all of the polls conducted in Iran are uniform in methodology. These are sample polls taken during the last two weeks of the campaign by Mehr News Agency in Iran and the U.S.-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions. About 50 million Iranians are eligible to vote on June 14.

IPOS: Rouhani Soars, Voters Begin to Decide

Mehr: Qalibaf Slips


Campaign Posters Capture Rivalries

Garrett Nada

            In flashy campaign art, Iran’s six presidential candidates are pulling at public heartstrings and playing on haunting moments in Iranian history to rally votes. Posters are now plastered across billboards, fences, office blocks and the sides of cars as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus accounts—some of which are actually banned in Iran. Each candidate has his own buzzwords drawing on his past as a war hero, top adviser to the supreme leader, moderate cleric or peace negotiator. 

      Jalili is a war veteran who lost a leg fighting Iraq in the 1980s—and his posters ooze with sacrifice and nationalism. His slogan, “Resistance is the key to success,” draws on imagery from a war that ended a quarter century ago but still influences politics. This poster encourages Iranians to fulfill their national duty to vote while recalling their past duty to defend the country. A hardliner, Jalili has run the most ideological campaign of the six candidates. He is currently secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Jalili accuses other candidates of being too soft on national security issues.
      Qalibaf is a “man of action”― and his posters gush with images of him on the job. Websites and blogs by the “Lovers of Qalibaf” depict the Tehran mayor overseeing the building of bridges, highways and parks to illustrate his slogan: “Jihadi management versus capitalism.” A pragmatic conservative, Qalibaf balances his image as a manager with security credentials. Four pictures on the left are from his days as a Revolutionary Guard on the Iran-Iraq war front.
      Velayati is the ultimate revolutionary insider ― and his posters flaunt his love-fest with Iran’s ruling clerics. His campaign boasts that the supreme leader “is not alone” in confronting Iran’s challenges. In his video, entitled “My Iran, Oh Fatherland,” Velayati cries as he watches old television footage of Iranians wailing and beating their chests after the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. A hardliner, Velayati served as foreign minister from 1989 to 1997 and was then named Khamenei’s chief foreign policy adviser.
      Rouhani is the only cleric in the race—and his campaign pushes an aura of piety. “A man of faith has come,” this poster pledges. The lone reformist candidate has run on a platform to “replace extremism with moderation.” He promises a “government of prudence and hope” that will work with both conservatives and reformists. But Rouhani also has a unique blend of other assets. He was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and the top nuclear negotiator from 1989 to 2005.
      Rezaei is the former Revolutionary Guards Commander—and his posters mix muscle with mystery. Rezaei’s slogan is “social ethics,” and his campaign centers around themes of the “people’s pain,” especially on the economy. On social media, his videos show him meeting with workers and small shopkeepers in outlying provinces. Rezaei has tried to stake out an independent position by criticizing both the reformist and hardliner camps.
      Gharazi is a blunt and outspoken independent ― and his posters exude frustration with Iran’s economic crisis. His slogan is “government against inflation.” Gharazi accuses both reformists and hardline “principlists” of losing control of the economy, claiming that the governments has its “hands in the pocket of the poor” while prices and unemployment increase. Gharazi’s video flaunts his role building the Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s, while his website and Twitter account parade pictures of him as a governor and oil minister.

Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant in the Center for Conflict Management at the United States Institute of Peace.


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