Skip to main content

Iran's election results a win-win for Khamenei

Even though the conservative candidate in Iran's presidential candidate did not win, Ayatollah Khamenei is looking for ways to spin the election as a victory for the conservatives.
Voters stand in a queue to cast their ballots during the presidential election in a Jewish and Christian district in the center of Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX36KPS

TEHRAN — President Hassan Rouhani won a second term in the May 19 presidential election with 57% of the vote. The polarization of the Iranian electorate led to a strong turnout of 73%, with some 41 million casting ballots. Rouhani, a Reformist, defeated hard-line rival Ebrahim Raisi, who had the backing of conservatives. The strong presence of pro-reform citizens and "gray voters" was key to the incumbent’s victory.

In the Iranian political lexicon, gray voters are those who usually don’t vote but are swing voters whenever they do participate in elections — such as in 2013 when Rouhani was first elected. The president has been representing both moderates and Reformist groups since 2013 after Reformists were marginalized over the disputed 2009 elections.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.