“To me, supporting Dr. Rouhani and voting for him is equal to supporting the mighty Iranian nation”, Jahangiri said.
They were not happy that the maverick Tehran mayor was standing again and thereby raising the risk of splitting the anti-Rouhani vote. “We can not take the renewal of his mandate for granted”. Whether they blame Rouhani for their plight or the hardline architects of the system, any protests after the vote will surely not be limited to the middle-class Iranians who marched silently in 2009, after the contested election that returned Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to office.
Now that the presidential campaign is nearing its end and President Rouhani has received the warm welcome of the Iranian people, “I feel that I have fulfilled my duty and withdraw my candidacy in order to make my utmost to support Rouhani and help him promote his future plans”, he added.
In announcing his decision, Qalibaf asked his supporters “to contribute their full capacity and support for the success of my brother, Ebrahim Raisi”.
Mr Qalibaf had been under pressure from the clerical establishment to drop out. With Iran’s economy stagnant, Rouhani has struggled to reach 50 percent in the polls. If the then six-candidate field was reduced to the pair, 48 percent of respondents would vote for Rouhani and 39 percent for Raisi, according to the survey released on May 10.
Raisi supporters have been celebrating Qalibaf’s backing with motorbike processions through downtown Tehran, sounding their horns and chanting “Rouhani, bye bye!”
“There’s nothing that….brings out young, liberal voters like a hard-line conservative, which Raisi is”, Kupchan said.
“We will use Qalibaf’s experiences and his managerial capabilities in the next government”, Tasnim news agency quoted Raisi as saying on Monday.
Until recently, Raisi, a former prosecutor general of Iran, was a relatively unknown political figure outside the eastern province of Khorasan-Razavi, where he is still the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity in the Muslim world and the organisation in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine, the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad.
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader has called for a self-sufficient “resistance economy”, a point emphasised by Raisi. Qalibaf’s exit only reinforces that view, Maloney said.
The 68-year-old cleric has maintained his alliance of moderates and reformists, despite economic setbacks for a country still recovering from years of sanctions.
If that expectation is met, then voters will be deciding whether Rouhani’s policy of greater engagement with the West continues, or whether it could stall under Raisi if the conservative cleric becomes president. But he has little direct political experience. Ghalibaf has lost twice in previous elections, first to Ahmadinejad in 2005 and then to Rouhani in 2013.
Supporters of the hardline camp are now widely visible online, in thousands of posts on Twitter or joining dozens of channels and groups affiliated with their candidate on the Telegram messaging app, which used by an estimated 20 million people in Iran.
The nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers ended a decadeslong crisis that removed sanctions on almost 80 million Iranians and potentially averted another military confrontation in the Middle East involving the United States. Hard-liners in the US benefit when Iranian hard-liners are ascendant, and that is bad for both of our countries.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region- Iran’s presidential frontrunners, conservative Ebrahim Raisi and his moderate opponent Hasan Rouhani have held rival rallies in Kurdish inhabited regions of the country on Sunday less than five days before the elections on May 19.