DUBAI/BEIRUT President Hassan Rouhani has an unassailable lead in Iran’s presidential election, an Iranian official source told Reuters on Saturday, citing an early unofficial tally, and is on course to defeat his hardline rival Ebrahim Raisi.
“It’s over, Rouhani is the winner,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
Rouhani had won 21.6 million votes, compared to 14 million for Raisi, with 37 million votes counted, the source added. There were about four million more votes still to be tallied, the source said.
More than 40 million ballots were cast, the interior ministry said, indicating a turnout of about 70 percent in Friday’s vote, roughly similar to the showing in 2013 elections when Rouhani swept into office in a landslide victory
State television said the official early results would be announced soon.
The Instagram account of Rouhani ally, former president Mohammad Khatami, showed a picture of Rouhani making a victory sign and ran the slogan “Hope prevailed over isolation”.
Rouhani’s chief of staff Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted that Rouhani had won 60 percent of the vote. He cited no evidence.
The big turnout appeared to have favored Rouhani, whose backers’ main worry has been apathy among reformist-leaning voters disappointed with the slow pace of change.
Rouhani, 68, who took office promising to open Iran to the world and give its citizens more freedom at home, faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from Raisi, a protege of supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
The election is important “for Iran’s future role in the region and the world”, Rouhani, who struck a deal with world powers two years ago to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most economic sanctions, said after voting.
Raisi, 56, has accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and has traveled to poor areas, speaking at rallies pledging more welfare benefits and jobs.