Celebration in Tehran of Hassan Rouhani’s Victory (Kosuf.com)
On Saturday, the cleric Hassan Rouhani — a long-time senior official in the Islamic Republic, former lead nuclear negotiator, and ally of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — was elected President with a first-round majority.
The development was a surprise to us. We expected Rouhani, with a surge in his campaign and the establishment of a moderate-reformist alliance in the last week, to make the run-off with Tehran Major Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf. We did not expect, even as signals rose during Friday’s vote, that he would leave Qalibaf and four other contenders far behind — let alone cross the 50% threshold for victory.
Why did the surprise — a slap in the face to many within the regime, including the Supreme Leader, from many Iranians — occur? And what difference will a Rouhani Presidency make?
We will have analyses throughout the day, as we cover the reaction to Rouhani’s victory.
Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times’ Bureau Chief in Tehran, tweets former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s comments on the Presidential election:
Rafsanjani: "Election was cultural, economic warning, a union against stubbornness, violation of law and a way to return to moderation"
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) June 16, 2013
Some Iranian women have literally been able to let their hair down since Rouhani election, even if momentarily. pic.twitter.com/GQYp2UKDpS
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) June 16, 2013
The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said via his Twitter account that the real winner of the Presidential election was the Iranian people.
حجت الاسلام شیخ حسن روحانی عصر امروز با حضرت آیت الله خامنه ای رهبر انقلاب اسلامی دیدار و گفتگو کرد
— khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 16, 2013
Khamenei noted that Rouhani had met with him on Sunday, in which he wished the President-elect success according to the “proper guidelines”.
To reinforce the proper relationship between the Supreme Leader and the President, Khamenei’s office published this photograph via Twitter, which shows the Khamenei in sharp focus, with Rouhani blurred in the background, looking respectfully at the Leader.
A second photograph places Khamenei at the center of the frame, while a portrait of his his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini glares fiercely off to the left. Meanwhile, Rouhani — pictured as shorter than the Supreme Leader, places a hand on his chest in a deferential manner.
A day after he was declared the winner in Iran’s Presidential election, President-elect Hassan Rouhani met with parliament speaker Ali Larijani to discuss issues of unemployment and inflation and also appointing a cabinet.
Rouhani said that he looked forward to cooperating with Larijani in the near future, while Larijani emphasized that there were important issues, like unemployment, that the new administration must tackle.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has issued a statement of “its all-out preparedness to interact and cooperate with the next administration within the framework of the assigned legal responsibilities and missions”.
The Guards congratulated “the noble Iranian nation”, the Supreme Leader, and Hassan Rouhani on the “great and momentous victory”.
The elite military organisation declared, “The magnificent, vigorous and enthusiastic participation of the people in the election and the creation of the political epic have opened a new chapter in the progressive movement of the Islamic Revolution and the country’s development.”
The White House has reacted cautiously to the outcome of the election: “The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”
The Americans, despite the victory of the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani, maintained their criticism of Iran’s domestic environment: “Yesterday’s election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly. However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.”
Iran’s stock market and currency are rising after the election of Hassan Rouhani.
The Tehran Stock Exchange, which rose 2% on Saturday, jumped 837 points — a 1.8% rise — by mid-morning Sunday.
The Iranian Rial, which has been embattled with a 70% fall in its value last year, has risen 9& against the US dollar. It is now trading on the open market at 34300:1, vs. 36500:1 before Friday’s vote.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Robert Tait profiles Hassan Rouhani and features analysis from EA:
“Rouhani is not a reformist but his coalition with them had an impact. The key thing was once [former Presidents] Rafsanjani and Khatami endorsed Rouhani, most reformists realised that this was their one chance to change the system and that a boycott was not going to work.”….
Whether [Rouhani] goes as far as saying they should release [detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein] Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi will be a real test of how far he can go within the system,” said Mr Lucas.
He now has to negotiate over political power within the system. There are going to be questions about the role of Parliament and who gets to manage the economy.