Iranian election back to two-horse race as Tehran mayor withdraws

Iranian election back to two-horse race as Tehran mayor withdraws

Karroubi, 80, and fellow reformist Mirhossein Mousavi ran for election in June 2009 and became figureheads for Iranians who staged mass protests after the vote they believed was rigged to bring back hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region- Iran's presidential frontrunners, conservative Ebrahim Raisi and his moderate opponent Hasan Rouhani have held rival rallies in Kurdish inhabited regions of the country on Sunday less than five days before the elections on May 19.

Iranians go to the polls on Friday to pick a new president. If the current field was reduced to the pair, 48 percent of respondents would vote for Rouhani and 39 percent for Raisi, according to the survey released on May 10.

Iranian elections are overseen by a clerical body that vets candidates and bars anyone seen as posing a challenge to Iran's unique brand of theocratic rule.

The first vice president added that he regarded support for President Rouhani's administration, which managed to prepare the ground and make up for the past mismanagement, as the support for the entire Islamic establishment.

However, the Tehran mayor issued a statement on Monday announcing that he was to withdraw from the presidential race while backing principlist candidate, Raeisi.

Minister McHugh is backing Varadkar for leadership
Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney are the clear frontrunners in the race. Coveney officially launched his campaign yesterday, saying that he would be a strong and stable leader of the party.

Having now called on conservative voters to unite behind Raisi, Qalibaf could conceivably upset forecasts that Rouhani was on course for a comfortable victory. Over 56,400,000 Iranians will be eligible to vote.

Raisi faces having to reach out to a wider conservative base in the next few days, Bassiri Tabrizi added, but noted that things are "definitely more hard for Rouhani now".

He reached a deal with world powers in 2015 which lifted most global sanctions in return for curbing Iran's nuclear programme.

Khatami is considered to have played a key role in Rouhani's ascension to the presidency in 2013, apparently convincing reformist challenger Mohammad Reza Aref to step aside. That deal saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions. I am not surprised that a leading Iran hawk wants the hard-line Iranian candidate to win, because that result could and would be used to justify ratcheting up tensions with Iran.

Abrams notably doesn't have much to say about the nuclear deal with Iran.

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