United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Election: US Reacts to Results

            In two separate statements, the United States called on the Iranian government to heed its people’s will after the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani in the first round of presidential elections. The Obama administration also “remains ready to engage with the Iranian government directly” to reach a diplomatic solution in the long standoff over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

Statement by the White House Press Secretary
            We have seen the announcement by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran that Hojjatoleslam Doctor Hassan Rouhani has been declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election.  We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard.  Yesterday’s election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly.  However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.
            It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians.  The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry
            We have seen the announcement by Iran’s Interior Ministry that Hassan Rouhani has been declared the winner of the country’s 11th presidential election.
            We admire the courage of the Iranian people who went to the polls and made their voices heard in a rigidly controlled environment that sought to limit freedom of expression and assembly. We remain concerned about the lack of transparency in the electoral process, and the attempts to censor members of the media, the internet, and text messages. Despite these challenges, however, the Iranian people have clearly expressed their desire for a new and better future.
            President-elect Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians. In the months ahead, he has the opportunity to keep his promises to the Iranian people.
            We, along with our international partners, remain ready to engage directly with the Iranian government. We hope they will honor their international obligations to the rest of the world in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

Rouhani: World Reacts to Election

            World leaders issued diverse reactions to the stunning election of Hassan Rouhani to Iran’s presidency. Governments from Europe to Israel and Russia hoped that his election would mark a turning point in stabilizing the region. Some leaders renewed their willingness to work with Iran to find a diplomatic solution to the controversial nuclear issue. The following are excerpted statements and remarks arranged by country.

The European Union
High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton
            “I remain firmly committed to working with the new Iranian leadership toward a swift diplomatic solution of the nuclear issue.” In a June 15 statement
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius           
            “The expectations of the international community with regard to Iran are significant, especially about its nuclear program and its involvement in Syria…. We are ready to work on them with the new president.” In a June 15 statement
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
            “I trust that he will exercise his responsibility with the sense of prudence and hope, which he had promised in his campaign. We will be particularly looking to see whether there will be change in Iran on the internal and international fronts after the election. It is also important and necessary that Iran complies with its obligations to respect human rights and endeavors to play a constructive role in the region.” In a June 16 statement
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
            “Let us not delude ourselves. The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program. It must be remembered that the Iranian ruler, at the outset, disqualified candidates who did not fit his extremist outlook...’” At a June 16 cabinet meeting
President Shimon Peres
            Rouhani “said he will not go for these extreme policies. I am not sure specified his policies. But it will be better, I am sure, and that is why the people voted for him… It [the result] surprised all the experts and all the prophets, and this is really intriguing. Why? Because apparently there are hidden forces and strengths that were unseen or underestimated.” In June 15 remarks to Reuters
Foreign Minister Emma Bonino
            “Italy trusts that, with the new government of Iranian President Rowhani, it will be possible to work at developing bilateral relations and begin without delay a season of renewed comprehension and constructive dialogue between Iran and the international community.” In a June 15 statement
Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri
            “In the name of the Lebanese parliament and mine, we offer you our warmest congratulations for the precious popular trust granted to you by the dear Iranian people.”
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah
            “As this political epic, by your blessed election, revived hopes of the dear Iranian people towards all their aspirations, it also renewed the great hopes of all your friends, lovers and brothers of the Arab, Muslim and oppressed peoples who see that you are today the focus of hopes, and who have always found the Islamic Republic the savior for every tyrannized, the relief for every oppressed and the mainstay for every resistant and mujahid [fighter] for Allah’s sake.”
Office of President Vladimir Putin
            Rouhani’s work “will contribute to the prosperity of friendly Iran and further strengthening of Russian-Iranian relations. The Russian president also confirmed readiness for consistent development of mutually advantageous cooperation with Iran in very diverse fields in the interests of ensuring regional security and international stability.” In a June 16 statement
Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
            “We are glad to congratulate you in the name of the people and government of Saudi Arabia … wishing greater progress and prosperity for the people of the brotherly Islamic Republic of Iran.” In a June 15 statement
President Bashar Assad
            Syria is determined to "bolster friendly relations and upgrade cooperation" especially in "confronting the plots of hegemony and aggression against the national sovereignty in our region in a way that reflects positively on the peoples of both friendly countries as well as the peoples of the region and the whole world."
The United Arab Emirates
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan
            “We look forward to working together for the good of this region and the Emirati and Iranian peoples. We are keen to forge relations based on cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” In a June 17 telegram
The United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron
            “I've always believed that the right approach on Iran is to engage, to make a clear offer to the Iranians that there is a different path for them. If they don't go down the path of nuclear weapons, then they can become a full part of the international community. Obviously, we will have to see how the new Iranian government reacts to that, but Britain will stand with America and others in continuing to make that offer.” In June 17 remarks to the press
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
            “We call on him to use the opportunity to set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran's nuclear program, taking forward a constructive relationship with the international community, and improving the political and human rights situation for the people of Iran.” In a June 15 statement
The United Nations
Office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
            “The Secretary General has been closely following the eleventh presidential election in Iran held on 14 June and notes with satisfaction the reported high turnout.  He extends his warm congratulations to Mr. Hasan Rowhani, the confirmed winner.
            “The Secretary-General intends to remain engaged with the Iranian authorities and with the President-elect on issues of importance to the international community and the welfare of the Iranian people.  He will continue encouraging Iran to play a constructive role in regional and international affairs.” In a June 15 statement


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.


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