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Mukhamejanova G.R. Results and conclusions of presidential elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran

On May 19, 2017, 12th presidential elections were held in Iran. Incumbent President H.Rouhani won with a wide-margin: he received 57% (23 549 616) of votes and was re-elected for a second term.

Main contender to H.Rouhani, E. Raisi took the second place, gaining 38,5% of votes (15 786 449). The other two candidates significantly lost to the leaders, and could not overcome the threshold of 500 000 votes.  M.Mir-Salim and M.Hashemitaba gained 1,2% and 0,5% of votes (478 215 and 215 450), respectively. Owing to the high voter turnout (73%), the authorities had to extend the voting time several times. About 56 million people had the right to vote at the elections [1].

Despite not very favorable results of pre-election polls, H.Rouhani not only won in the first round with a clear advantage, but also received 20.96% more votes than in the previous elections in 2013.

23 provinces of 31 voted in majority for H.Rouhani. H.Rouhani won with a significant margin in Tehran (4 388 012 votes). In addition, H. Rouhani received over 1 million votes in the provinces of Fars, Isfahan, East Azerbaijan, Mazandaran, Khuzestan, Gilan and Western Azerbaijan.

E.Raisi won in 8 provinces: Khorasan Razavi, Hamedan, Markazi, Zanjan, North Khorasan, Qom, Semnan, South Khorasan. He received the most votes in Khorasan Razavi (1 885 838 votes) [2].

Iranians living abroad also participated in the voting. 78% of registered voters cast their ballots in favor of H.Rouhani. At the same time, more than 95% of Iranians voted for H.Rouhani in the USA, Germany [3], Turkey and Australia. Supporters of E.Raisi were in the majority in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon [4] (it is noteworthy that these are the countries where Iran is actively strengthening its positions).

After the announcement of the results, H.Rouhani declared that the Iranians rejected the “return to the past” and supported his reform program: “Today, the world knows that Iranians have chosen the path of interaction with the world away from extremism and violence” [5].

After the victory speech, supporters of H.Rouhani took to the streets throughout the country. A lot of people in Tehran chanted their expectations from the re-election of the president: the release of opposition leaders, more social freedom and fewer restrictions in everyday life [6].

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev, congratulated H.Rouhani on an impressive victory. In the congratulatory telegram he noted: “Active participation of the citizens in the election and broad support they gave to you prove that the population’s trust in your political and economic programs has strengthened. Under your leadership Iran will achieve new achievements on the path of its progress” [7].  N.Nazarbayev expressed readiness for the further development of the Kazakh-Iranian cooperation.

The leaders of Russia, Japan, Spain, Croatia, Afghanistan, Belarus and Iraq, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Great Britain and Canada, felicitated H.Rouhani on re-election and expressed the hope that Iran will play a “constructive” role in maintaining stability in the region.

The newly-elected president of France E.Macron congratulated H.Rouhani, and expressed the hope that Iran will abide by historic nuclear agreement (JCPOA).  He stressed that France will also be vigilant with respect to strict implementation of agreement [8].

Prime Minister of Japan Sh.Abe called re-election of H.Rouhani a “confidence on the path of international interaction”. Prime Minister of Lebanon S.Hariri noted that H.Rouhani was re-elected at a “sensitive” time, when conflicts are inflicting damage on Islamic countries [9].

On May 9, 2017, simultaneously with the presidential elections, the 5th elections to municipal councils were held (265 400 candidates applied for 127 600 municipal seats) [10]. The reformists received 100% of the votes in Tehran with Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani taking the most votes (1 746 568 votes) [11]. Therefore, experts believe that M. Ghalibaf, who previously ran for president from the Conservatives, may be removed from the post of mayor (he held this post since 2005). Reformists also lead in such large Iranian cities as Isfahan, Kerman, Mashhad, Semnan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Zahedan [12].

 

Conclusions and generalizations

Firstly, the central element of the political course of H.Rouhani will remain nuclear agreement, attracting foreign investment, fighting poverty and youth unemployment. His victory means further realization of the liberal model of economic development, as well as the formation of a more favorable investment climate. The main challenge for H.Rouhani is to find the best balance between rapprochement with the West and upholding Iranian values.

Secondly, the victory of the conservative E.Raisi could cast doubt on the implementation of the JCPOA from the United States and Iran. The expected tough foreign policy of E.Raisi could negatively affect the balance of power in the region, lead to the distancing of Iran from the West and result in a new international isolation.

Thirdly, along with the presidential elections, one of the most discussed topics in Iran was the succession issue. Presidential elections were interpreted by many analysts as an event that could predetermine the future successor of 77-year-old A.Khamenei. The triumph of H.Rouhani will give reformists more sway in choosing a new Supreme Leader.

Fourthly, Iran will remain an important player in the regional processes and will continue to strengthen its positions in the Middle East: in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. However, in the light of recent events (including in the context of the Arab Islamic American summit in Riyadh and D.Trump visit to Tel Aviv), H.Rouhani may have to adjust his foreign policy course.

Fifthly, the course of Iran towards Kazakhstan will remain unchanged. The Kazakh-Iranian cooperation will continue to dynamically develop in the trade, economic, investment, transport, scientific and cultural spheres. Astana and Tehran will closely cooperate in the regional formats of the SCO and ECO, as well as in the framework of preparation for the forthcoming Caspian Summit.

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[1] Final results of Iran’s presidential election, Rouhani wins //http://en.isna.ir/news/96023019565/Final-results-of-Iran-s-presidential-election-Rouhani-wins

[2] آرا تفکیکی انتخابات ریاست‌جمهوری در هر شهر http://www.fararu.com/fa/news/316535

[3] نتایج آرای حوزه های اخذ رای دوازدهمین انتخابات ریاست جمهوری در آلمان //http://berlin.mfa.ir/index.aspx?fkeyid=&siteid=10&fkeyid=&siteid=10&pageid=33967&newsview=455919

[4] //http://cdn.mashreghnews.ir/d/2017/05/20/0/1943686.pdf

[5] Supporters urge Rouhani to embrace pro-reform agenda //https://www.ft.com/content/ba364746-3e14-11e7-9d56-25f963e998b2

[6] Emboldened by Rouhani’s Win, Iranians Seek Further Reforms //https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/world/middleeast/iran-celebrate-elections-hassan-rouhani.html?_r=0

[7] Телеграмма поздравления Хасану Рухани в связи с избранием на пост Президента Исламской Республики Иран //http://www.akorda.kz/ru/events/international_community/telegrammes_and_letters/telegramma-pozdravleniya-hasanu-ruhani-v-svyazi-s-izbraniem-na-post-prezidenta-islamskoi-respubliki-iran

[8] World officials continue congratulating Rouhani //http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/413636/World-officials-continue-congratulating-Rouhani

[9] World officials seek closer ties with Iran as Rouhani reelected president //http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/413659/World-officials-seek-closer-ties-with-Iran-as-Rouhani-reelected

[10] Iran reformists sweep Tehran municipal council election //http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/world/iran-reformists-sweep-tehran-municipal-council-election-article-1.3184975

[11] Single Coalition Wins All Seats in Tehran City Council //https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/05/21/1416070/single-coalition-wins-all-seats-in-tehran-city-council

[12] Iran reformists sweep Tehran municipal council election //http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/world/iran-reformists-sweep-tehran-municipal-council-election-article-1.3184975