In pics: Iranians take the streets as high-stakes vote goes down to wire
Working against Rouhani is a sense among many Iranians that the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept limits on its atomic energy program, has failed to deliver an economic windfall.world Updated: May 18, 2017 17:45 IST
As Tehran’s notorious traffic slowed, the waiting campaigners pounced, pushing posters with the smiling face of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, through the open windows of trapped cars, pleading for votes and shouting slogans as drivers edged away.
They were determined to make every minute count in the last days of a campaign in which Rouhani began as favourite, but has ended locked in a bitter and close-run fight with a conservative rival.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani staked his political future on opening Iran ever so slightly to the outside world and overcoming hard-liners’ opposition to secure a historic nuclear deal in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions.
He’ll soon find out if voters think it’s enough to keep him in the job.
His supporters streamed into downtown Tehran streets thick with police for rallies that lasted into the early hours Thursday, just ahead of a 24-hour no-campaigning period before the vote. Wearing Rouhani’s signature purple on ribbons and loosely draped headscarves, they honked, cheered and chanted slogans in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of two Iranian opposition leaders under house arrest since 2011 who back Rouhani.
The rallies were largely peaceful even as Rouhani supporters faced off against smaller crowds supporting his main rival, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, though police rushed reinforcements to break up Rouhani rallies that grew large enough to block traffic.