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Why Iran's conservatives are suddenly rooting for Rouhani's VP

First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri’s strong performance in the first Iranian presidential debate has led conservatives to speculate about the prospect of him challenging President Hassan Rouhani. What is the real aim of this unlikely depiction?
Iran's first Vice-President, Eshaq Jahangiri speaks during an annual ceremony in Tehran on March 14, 2017, in which charitable donors pay off the debts of mehrieh prisoners as a show of Islamic charity.
The "Mehrieh" ("affection") system, in which future husbands agree to pay a certain number of gold coins to the bride in the event of divorce, has left thousands of men in Iran languishing in jail and many more destitute. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

Two days after the first round of Iran’s presidential debates on April 28, an online poll indicated that First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri attracted national attention, taking a lead over his fellow competitor, incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who is running for a second term.

Jahangiri’s booming popularity is widely attributed to his attacks against Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a conservative candidate, who has been Tehran’s mayor since 2005. Ghalibaf, who is running for president for the third time in 12 years, was criticized during the debate over his management of Tehran municipality and his hard-line political approach.

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