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After his withdrawal from presidential race, who will get Tehran mayor's votes?

Although Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has withdrawn from the presidential race and urged his supporters to back fellow conservative Ebrahim Raisi, there are doubts about voters heeding his call.
Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi (R-2) holds hands with former presidential candidate and mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (L), as he greets his supporters during a campaign rally at Imam Khomeini Mosque in the capital Tehran on May 16, 2017.
Iran's presidential election on May 19 is effectively a choice between moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani and hardline jurist Raisi, with major implications for everything from civil rights to relations with Washington. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE

Despite previously dismissing the idea of stepping aside in Iran's presidential race, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf withdrew May 15 in favor of fellow conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi. This unexpected move has left political analysts wondering whether it will actually benefit Raisi or, conversely, the incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, in the May 19 election.

Ghalibaf, a three-time presidential candidate, had run a controversial campaign. On May 8, his campaign adviser, Mahmud Razavi, had tweeted, “Poll results show that Ghalibaf now has more votes than Rouhani and thus will not — under any circumstances — withdraw from this race.” On the same day, Ghalibaf's political adviser, Hossein Ghorbanzadeh, also editor-in-chief of the daily Hamshahri, which is run by the Tehran municipality, tweeted, “If Ghalibaf withdraws, Rouhani will be elected in the first round of voting. He will not, under any circumstances, withdraw from the race. This is a rumor propagated by Rouhani supporters with the hope of inciting fear.”

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