Oct 18, 2021

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won Iran’s election decisively Friday, with 57 percent of the vote over hardline conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi’s 38.5 percent.

Voter turnout was unexpectedly high, with 70 percent of Iranian constituents casting ballots. Rouhani’s landslide re-election is viewed as a significant endorsement of his initiatives to re-engage with the international community—including the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers—and offer Iranians greater domestic liberties, contrasting with Raisi’s platform of religious conservatism and a return to an isolationist foreign policy.

“Our nation’s message in the election was clear: Iran’s nation chose the path of interaction with the world, away from violence and extremism,” Rouhani said in a televised address following his victory.

Prior to the election, Iran’s conservative faction had united behind Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s defeat leaves the country’s conservatives without clear leadership.

Rouhani’s sweeping victory protects the nuclear deal brokered with former President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, and grants the country’s reformists greater political influence over the selection of Iran’s next supreme leader.

During his election campaign last year, President Donald Trump promised to “rip up” the “disastrous” nuclear deal. In April, the U.S. State Department said Iran is in compliance with the deal, but remains a state sponsor of terrorism. Trump later said the Islamic Republic is “not living up to the spirit” of the nuclear agreement.