Hassan Rouhani won the Iranian presidential election in an unexpected landslide on Saturday, a win for reformists in the country.
His victory bolsters the nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers — one of the key achievements of his first term — and his margin of victory gives Rouhani a mandate to challenge the conservative hardliners who still hold power in the country’s cumbersome mix of theocracy and democracy.
Rouhani won 57 percent of the vote and avoided a runoff in an election that saw unexpectedly high voter turnout. His main rival, Ebrahim Raisi, took 38 percent of the vote.
“Yesterday, you said ‘No’ to those who wanted us to return to the past,” Rouhani told Iranians in a televised victory speech.
He thanked his reformist predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, defying a ban on mentioning the name of the ex-president — a sign that he will translate his impressive mandate into a combative second term.
His win shifts power to the reformists in the looming fight over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Iran’s next supreme leader. At 77, Khameni is thought to be in poor health. He is also thought to have tacitly backed Raisi.
In a statement released after the results were announced, the ayatollah did not offer his congratulations to to Rouhani, though he praised the “massive” turnout in the election.