Iran's Rouhani wins the presidency again. Syria's Assad is pleased

State TV offered its congratulations in a brief statement on Saturday.

The powers of the president in Iran are restricted by an unelected Supreme Leader - now Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is said to be grooming Raisi as the next Supreme Leader.

President Rouhani's principal support base appears to have been the urban centres where personal freedoms - encapsulated by the opening of high-speed Internet which helped open the window to the world - mattered considerably.

Experts say Raisi's win could have upset a lot of voters in the country who may believe his supporters within the government interfered with the election tally.

Hardliners had been perceived to boast great advantages against the moderate till days before the election, however, Rouhani jumpstarted his chances by raising the banner of reform during the final stage of his campaign, which echoed Iranians' ardent desire for change.

Rouhani was reelected for the second term with 57 percent of votes at the election which took place in Iran on Friday. That puts turnout above 70 per cent.

It followed a huge 73 per cent turnout on Friday which forced authorities to extend polling by several hours.

Rouhani won almost 23 million votes, a strong improvement over his election victory in 2013, when he won 18.6 million votes, or 50.1% of the votes cast in a six-man race.

The result, which means a second four-year term, also delivers a setback to the Revolutionary Guards, the powerful security force that controls a vast industrial empire in Iran.

Under Rouhani, Iran reached a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement that capped Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of global economic sanctions.

Rouhani has come to embody more liberal and reform-minded Iranians' hopes for greater freedoms and openness in the conservative Islamic Republic and better relations with the outside world.

He billed the deal as one that would thrust open the gates of economic opportunity, bring the country out of its isolation and create millions of jobs for Iranians.

More than 56,400,000 Iranian people were eligible to vote. Donald Trump arrived this weekend in Saudi Arabia - Iran's biggest enemy in the region - who will push hard for Trump to turn his back on the nuclear deal. He is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, who stopped short of endorsing anyone in the election.

All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists.

Iran's President has important sway over domestic affairs and serves as the face of Iran to the world.

  • Leroy Wright