Martes, 25 Setiembre, 2018

Polls open in first Iran presidential vote since atomic deal

Irune Rengel | 19 May, 2017, 18:51

Iranians began voting Friday in the country's first presidential election since its nucl.

Having proved too independent for the conservative establishment, Ahmadinejad was dramatically barred from standing by the Guardian Council last month as it disqualified all but six of the 1,636 hopefuls who registered. The presidency is still a powerful post, with considerable influence over domestic policy, the state bureaucracy and foreign affairs. Will Rouhani get another chance to prove his efficiency? or Conservative Raisi will take over and as speculated by many experts, impact the nuclear deal and peace in West Asia?

Whoever wins Friday's vote could help shape the choice of the next supreme leader, and in turn the direction of the country.

His government negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling worldwide sanctions.

A pragmatist rather than a gung-ho reformer, Rouhani has tried to fire up the pro-reform camp with speeches that break taboos by targeting Iran's hardline elite, from the conservative judiciary to the powerful Revolutionary Guards. The deal is considered the landmark of Rouhani's tenure and he will be keen to see it through. It also pledged to continue reviewing the nuclear deal with withdrawal still possible.

Iranians poured into polling stations on Friday to give their verdict on President Hassan Rouhani and his troubled efforts to rebuild ties with the world and kick-start the struggling economy.

Rouhani enjoys the backing of former President Mohammad Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005.

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"Instead of using the capable hands of our youths to resolve problems, they are putting our economy in the hands of foreigners", Raisi said at a final rally in the holy city of Mashhad on Wednesday.

Rouhani has history on his side in the election.

What are the issues?

The Western partners in the JCPOA, the so-called "Five plus one" (the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union) have been slow to remove the sanctions, mainly because of foot-dragging in Washington - although the USA government was quick enough to grant a waiver when Boeing wanted to sign a $16.6 deal to sell 80 passenger aircraft to Iran Air last December.

But the benefits have been largely limited by a fall in global oil prices and US President Donald Trump's election, which introduced uncertainty for investors - Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the deal. For the average Iranian, the results have been lackluster.

It is a message that has fallen on fertile ground at a time when unemployment is at least 12.5 percent and nearly everyone is feeling the stagnation of the economy. In 2016, GDP growth was 4.5%, recovering to 2014 levels after it plummeted to 0.4% in 2015.

Rouhani saw relief from sanctions as essential to liberating the country's economy.

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Rohani's supporters are mostly the young generation, religious and ethnic minorities such as Sunni (Iran has a Shi'a majority by 90 percent), and Kurds and Arabs.

Sanctions have cost Tehran about $50 billion in lost revenue each year.

The candidates who have been approved and shortlisted are all from different factions of the ruling regime and thus the overall outcome of the election is a foregone conclusion - a candidate totally committed to continuing the same strategic direction of the theocratic regime will be appointed.

While sanctions relief helped return sorely-needed imports to Iranian markets, investors did not rush in as hoped, thanks to continued U.S. bilateral sanctions and global banking's continued hesitance to re-engage with Iran.

But in an apparent reference to the 2009 disturbances, Khamenei, an unelected clerical hardliner who has the ultimate say in Iran, has previously warned he would confront anyone trying to interfere in the election. Although Iran in the past has witnessed that every president wins teh re-election, and it might be a similar case for Rouhani, but there are a few challenges which he faces that might break the pattern of Iran's presidential election.

Khamenei urged the Iranians to go to the polling stations for the vote at the earliest time.

Iranians are voting an a presidential election, in which Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term, the BBC reports.

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