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Embattled Iranian President Rouhani wins second term by a wide margin

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won his re-election by a huge margin. He will serve another four years as president. It was a reassuring victory for Iran’s Shiite reformist camp, and a sign that Iranian citizens want more engagement and outreach with the outside world.

Shortly after his win, Rouhani tweeted to Iranians “I humbly bow my head down to you,” “I will remain loyal to my promise to you.”

Rouhani had faced stiff opposition from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who supported conservative Ebrahim Raisi. Historically, whichever candidate received support from the Supreme Leader won the elections.

Rouhani garnered 57% with 22 million of the votes, defeating challenger Raisi who polled at 15 million with 38% of the votes.

In his remarks, Rouhani said his win shows that voters reject extremism and welcome a broader connection to the world.

He said the election revealed the country’s unity and was not an “opening for the deepening” of divides. “The elections were the scene of a democratic event in order to peacefully resolve political, cultural and other issues of conflict that we may be grappling with,” he said. “Our people in these elections, having understood the differing viewpoints, chose their path, and everyone must respect the wishes and will of the people.”

Rouhani, a moderate, was a a major player of the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S, the European Union and other partners, and his first term was marked by an international outreach.

The agreement had been a controversial decision both in the U.S and Iran. It emerged as a top campaign issue, with the election seen in part as a referendum on the deal. Many Iranians feared the future of the deal following the election of Donald Trump as U.S president, who referred to the deal as “a disaster.”

Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not expressly congratulate Rouhani, instead he highlighted the historic high turnout of the elections in a series of tweets.

Iran’s Interior Ministry State Elections Committee revealed that more than 40 million Iranians turned up at polling stations and more than 70% of eligible voters cast their ballot.

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