Iran votes in election which will set relations with West

Queues grew at polling stations before they opened. Echoing recent elections around the world, it centered on populist claims that ordinary people were being left behind.

Iran's Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi fills in his ballot paper in at a polling station in Tehran.Cristiano Ronaldo's Iranian doppelganger gestures at a polling station for Iran's 2017 elections on May 19, 2017. Polls now are expected to close at 10 p.m.

"The enthusiastic participation of Iranians in the election reinforces our national power and security", said Rouhani as he cast his vote in Tehran.

Under Iran's constitution, the supreme leader has final say on all state matters. There was a festive atmosphere in Tehran where Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, was mobbed by cheering supporters as he cast his ballot in a mosque in the city centre. But US President Donald Trump has launched a 90-day review of the accord that could see it abandoned, and is visiting Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia this weekend. He said that voters should also keep in mind that the election outcome is extremely important for the country's foreign policy.

The first two candidates are the frontrunners and opinion polls show they have equal chances to secure victory. Political tradition is on his side, as all Presidents since 1985 have had a second term.

Rouhani is good at co-opting the message of greater social and political freedom on the campaign trail, according to Suzanne Maloney at Brookings.

In previous elections, preliminary results were released within hours. He went on to serve as deputy interior minister and police chief.

The official unemployment rate is 12.5%, and much higher for the university-educated. For most Iranians, the election is a choice between bad and worse, so Rouhani's odds are better than Raisi's. "Rouhani did a lot of work that I praise him for, but we can not rely on foreigners".

At one Rouhani rally last week, where the crowd was mostly young and cosmopolitan, many said they were there to take a stand.

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Before voting had even concluded in Iran's presidential election on Friday, the head of the opposition campaign complained of multiple "infractions" and called for an intervention by authorities.

Former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who governed the nation from 2005 to 2013, pushed his administration to rally against the USA, going as far as indicating that the west was behind the terrorist attack of September 11, Los Angeles reported.

In Tehran the competition is between pro-reform candidates campaigning under the slogan of "Hope", who see themselves in alliance with Rouhani, and the principlists who hold the majority in the sitting council.

No Iranian president has failed to win re-election since 1985.

But there's a risk for conservative diehards that "Rouhani, who doesn't share Ayatollah Khamenei's vision for the future of the revolution, could influence the succession".

If Rouhani wins, and wins with something of a mandate, Iran's policy toward the west will remain largely the same - provided the United States remains in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. He's done that - in the process restoring oil output, spurring growth and slashing inflation.

Born into a religious family in the Shia Muslim holy city of Mashhad on August 23, 1960, Raisi wears the black turban of a "seyed" whose genealogy is said to lead back to Prophet Mohammed.

The "era of violence and extremism is over", Rouhani said at a rally this month.

However, that doesn't mean it will be easy.

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