Rouhani, a man of the Islamic Revolution, opens Iran to West

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a resounding re-election victory on Saturday as voters overwhelmingly backed his efforts to reach out to the world and rebuild the struggling economy.

Iran's state television has declared incumbent President Hassan Rouhani the victor of the country's presidential election, giving him a second four-year term to see out his agenda calling for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The election is important "for Iran's future role in the region and the world", Mr Rouhani, who struck a deal with world powers two years ago to curb Iran's nuclear programme in return for the lifting of most economic sanctions, said after voting.

According to the law, the candidates have three days to file their complaints about the results of the election with Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution, Rahmani Fazli added. Analysts have suggested a high turnout will aid Rouhani in securing a second four-year term.

The contentiousness of the campaign could make it more hard for Rouhani to secure the consent of hardliners to carry out his agenda, said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies programme at Stanford University. "We also hope that he restores the rights of Iranians, the freedom of speech, the freedom of organization, so that Iranians can live the life that they deserve". The turnout was more than 40 million (70%). U.S. President Donald Trump's tougher stance on Iran has stoked concern as well, though his administration this week took a key step toward preserving the Obama-era nuclear deal.

He promised voters a moderate and outward-looking Iran and criticised the conservative-dominated judiciary.

Announcing the preliminary results, head of the election committee Ali Asghar Ahmadi said Rouhani had received 14.6 million of the votes counted, while his conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi received 10.1 million.

Meanwhile, the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, congratulated Mr Rouhani for the "strong mandate received" and that Europe was ready to work for better "engagement" and "regional peace". They had thrown their support behind Raisi to safeguard their interests.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose country has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980, said he hoped Rouhani would use his second term to end Tehran's ballistic missile program and what he called its network of terrorism.

Oil sales have rebounded since the nuclear deal took effect in January past year, but growth in the rest of the economy has been limited, leaving unemployment at 12.5 percent overall, and at nearly 30 percent among young people.

He also noted that by reelecting Hassan Rouhani, the Iranians in fact provided him with an opportunity to accomplish his promises, such as reducing tensions with the West.

  • Salvatore Jensen