Polls Open in First Iran Presidential Vote Since Atomic Deal

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That is why Ayatollah Khamanei - in a thinly veiled rebuke to Mr Rouhani - has declared some of the remarks made during the campaign "unworthy of the Iranian nation".

Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst with the International Crisis Group (ICG), says Raisi faces an uphill battle in part because of a perceived lack of executive experience and even charisma.

Iran's regional policies, its alleged support for terrorism and its missile program will constrict Rouhani's ability to get the remaining sanctions lifted. The main fight will take place between Rouhani and Raisi. Although not much has been done to improve women's rights in the past four years, I will vote for him as I respect Khatami, " said 35-year-old Mirzayi.

Iranian incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, also a candidate, cast his vote in a ballot box in Tehran's Hosseinieh Ershad on Friday morning.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said turnout is expected to exceed 70 percent.

He may be the ultimate insider, but Hassan Rouhani is running like the anti-establishment candidate. Although the supreme leader did not single out any candidate, it was easy to read it as aimed at Rouhani.

According to the Iranian Oil Ministry's official news site, Shana, German industrial equipment company Lewa has established a solid footing in post-sanctions Iran.

His closest opponent is conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has cast doubt on the benefits of the nuclear deal.

But the emergence of Raisi, backed by the elite, hardline Revolutionary Guards, has raised concern for the future of the nuclear deal and its potential to deliver economic recovery. "We always have to choose between bad and worse in Iran's elections".

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MOHAMMAD MARANDI: The Iranians recognize that the United States is in a very hard position, that it can not launch another war.

Maybe one of the most surprising aspects this campaign is how tolerant security forces have been.

At his last major rally in Tehran, thousands chanted for reformist leaders locked up after mass protests in 2009.

Although Rouhani has an incumbent's advantage, his promised economic revival is seen by many as having fallen short of his stated goals, and he has been the target of unceasing and strong allegations of corruption.

It is clear that a key factor for the regime's criterion for selection of its favoured candidate for presidency for the next four years chiefly rests on the critical importance of safeguarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed with the United States in January 2016. Even if inflation has dropped from 35 percent to less than 10 percent, increased oil production and ended some of the worldwide sanctions, the unemployment rate increased up to 12.1 percent, a situation even worse for workers aged 15-24 with 29 percent of them without a job. Many of them, whether they be married or not, still live with their parents because of a shortage of affordable housing.

But hardline rivals hammered Rouhani over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions, even after most were rescinded following the nuclear agreement. He has pledged to support the poor with a monthly cash payment of $65.

Rouhani in particular was at the intellectual forefront of Iran's move to the economic right as head of the Center for Strategic Research, and he has espoused a critical view on minimum wages and labor unions, while general state policy under his administration has been to promote economic development through foreign direct investment rather than state-oriented pro-growth economic policies and government interventionism.

"We want freedom of the press", he declared, "freedom of association, and freedom of thought!" Without the Western money, without the Western banking system, nothing, nothing can possibly function within this country. The leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, will ultimately sign the decree appointing the new president. Zeinab Asgharpour and fellow Rouhani supporters roam Tehran's streets, pleading for voters to keep that streak alive.

The global community will be paying close attention to the Islamic Republic's elections, whose results will surely reverberate throughout the Middle Eastern region and Muslim world.

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