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Iran reformist drops out of election, supports Rouhani

20 Мая 2017

Iranian First Vice-President and one of the country's presidential candidates on Tuesday withdrew his candidacy in favor of incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, Tasnim new agency reported.

"I think a low turnout of the voters will be devastating for President Rouhani since moderate candidates usually have larger chances of winning when the turnout is above 65 percent", the economist Said Lailaz said.

Iranian voters are set to cast ballot in the country's presidential election on Friday.

Rouhani faces five other - mostly conservative - challengers during Friday's presidential race, and particularly strong competition from cleric and judge Ebrahim Raisi who has the backing of hardliners in the regime.

Qalibaf, a former Guards commander and police chief, was one of main rivals of president Hassan Rouhani who is seeking a second term.

"Some issues can not be resolved if the government has only 51 percent of votes", Rouhani said.

The voting date for the 12th presidential and 5th city and council elections is May 19.

"I ask all my supporters to contribute their full capacity and support for the success of my brother, Ebrahim Raisi", Mr. Qalibaf said in a statement, according to state television.

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Recent polls put Rouhani with a comfortable lead over Raisi, but such surveys are unreliable in Iran, which limits political activity and free expression.

The election is largely viewed as a referendum on the nuclear deal struck with world powers in 2015 under his leadership.

Qalibaf had been under pressure from fellow hard-liners to fall in behind Raisi.

This would be the first time Karroubi votes in any election since his arrest.

"It's definitely more hard for Rouhani now", said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Official statistics over the past decades show that moderate candidates, including former president Muhammad Khatami and Green Movement leader Mir Hussein Mosavi enjoyed wider support in both Kurdish and Sunni regions in Iran.

Most Iranians have yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal.

That has led to speculation that Iran's next government will engage less with the West, especially after Khamenei called on whoever wins to avoid relying on foreign investors to strengthen the economy - a comment widely interpreted as a criticism of Rouhani.

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