Iran's top leader urges high turnout in presidential vote

Supporters of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a street campaign ahead the May 19 presidential election in downtown Tehran Iran Wednesday

The 68-year-old won a convincing victory in 2013, bringing together moderates and reformists with vows to ease tension with the West and improve civil rights at home. In the history of the Islamic republic, no incumbent has failed to win a second term. "We reiterate our call that Iran remains one of the most underappreciated political risks in the oil market".

The election has essentially become a two-horse race after the other leading conservative, Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, dropped out on Monday and threw his support behind Raisi.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

"We are still waiting the final decision.to look carefully at the new IPC and how this new IPC will be applied", ENI vice president Lapo Pistelli told forum attendees in Tehran. "He was so much concerned about selling it, he didn't think about the future and delivery and managing of expectations".

Economics have played a central role in the battle between Rouhani and his closest competitor, Raisi.

Hard-liners are backing Ebrahim Raisi, considered close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is not just because of the past of the main challenger left in the race, Ebrahim Raisi, although that is ghastly enough. If no candidate gains at least 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election between two top candidates will take place on May 26.

Iran's presidential election is seen as a referendum on Hassan Rouhani's outreach to Western nations and the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which lifted crippling worldwide sanctions. In that case, the orphaned deal could have a short life span.

That's something anti-Iran hawks in Washington would welcome.

All administrative, monitoring and security bodies are at work to safeguard the May 19 elections, the Leader said, noting that these organizations have the nation's trust, but still urged them to exercise utmost care and help protect people's votes.

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Analysts at RBC Capital make the case that a Raisi win can not be entirely ruled out.

Over the past almost four decades, the Islamic regime has successfully eliminated all secular left and liberal opposition groups and reduced electoral political participation to its own two factions: the hardliners, who now call themselves Usul-gerayan, ("principlists"), and the pragmatists, or so-called Eslah-talaban ("reformers").

"Rouhani is a regime insider".

Stuart Jones, the top USA diplomat in charge of the Middle East, said the U.S.is still forming a "comprehensive Iran policy" that includes its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

He concluded: "If Raisi wins, two things will happen". In a country with 80 million people, the nation is, enthusiastically, preparing themselves for Election Day, meanwhile there is peace everywhere; this is truly something precious that we should appreciate. "And second, the entire world will have a much clearer view of the nature of that regime today". In a speech, he claimed that his truncated run had been meant to "make the voice of reformists" heard, but he then put his weight behind Rouhani's bid for reelection.

On Wednesday, Iranian state media said four passenger airplanes were being delivered as the first installment of a deal with French-Italian manufacturer ATR that was finalized after the nuclear agreement. He is appealing to a significant segment of the country's population that is eager for political change in the country and rapprochement with the wider world. He and his allies, including the Western-educated foreign minister, Javad Zarif, can do little as authorities arrest and arbitrarily detain foreigners and brutalize dissidents. He is a conservative cleric backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the paramilitary Basij, security forces that wield a huge amount of political and economic clout.

A high turnout could also boost the chances of Rouhani, who was swept to power in 2013 on promises to reduce Iran's global isolation and grant more freedoms at home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right wing prefer a hardliner candidate to show that Iran is an "existential threat" to Israel, as they did using Ahmadinejad's nonsensical pronouncements about the Holocaust and Israel. He has generally limited his comments about the election to calling for a strong turnout.

Analyst Saeed Leylaz said Rouhani's main obstacle to re-election would be poor turnout on account of jaded voters.

Ahead of the presidential and Islamic city council elections, a group of people from various backgrounds met with Ayatollah Khamenei this morning May 17, 2017.

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