election news

The Iranian Presidential election results are out and the incumbent Rouhani has won a second term in office. Read on for the full results and reaction in this edition of #Election News!

President Hassan Rouhani has been re-elected for a second term in office. The 68-year-old’s victory has been viewed as a triumph over extremism and an endorsement of the reforms he pursued in his first term of office, such as the 2015 agreement to scale back the country’s controversial nuclear programme.

Results at a Glance – Iranian Presidential Election

  • Rouhani won 57% of the vote – avoiding a run-off by securing a majority in the first round
  • Main rival Ebrahim Raisi received 38.5% of the vote
  • Voter turnout recorded as 73%

After the election, President Rouhani declared “The Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world, a path which is distant from extremism and violence”. He then struck a more conciliatory tone as he called upon all Iranians to stand behind him, “the election is now over. I am the president of the nation and need assistance from every single Iranian, even those who oppose me and my policies”.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – the country’s Supreme Leader – praised the election by claiming it displayed the country’s “increasing progress”. However, he stopped short of personally congratulating Mr Rouhani on winning the election.

In the west, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Rouhani to “dismantle a network of terrorism and end [its] ballistic missile programme”. Although Iran has claimed its missile programme doesn’t breach UN resolutions and isn’t involved in terrorist activity.

The European Union’s head of foreign policy – Federica Mogherini – congratulated Rouhani and declared that Europe was ready to engage with Iran on securing “regional peace”.

The Use of Social Media

Much of the election campaign has been characterized by the use of social media. The use of Instagram and Telegram, in particular, has been wide spread for both voters and candidates. Social media has been seen as a way of stepping around the barriers of state media and appealing to voters directly on their personal devices.

The two front runners – President Hassan Rouhani – and his chief opponent – Ebrahim Raisi – have embraced online media and have frequently live-streamed their speeches, conference, and rallies on Instagram. Similarly to Trump’s legendary use of Twitter, both candidates have been providing regular updates – but via Telegram.

In contrast to other social media and traditional media platforms, Telegram and Instagram are not subject to government censorship. As they are freely accessible their membership numbers have skyrocketed – Telegram reaching approximately 20 million members.

The Impact of social media on the Iranian Presidential Election

Social media had a profound impact on the outcome of the election. Former president Mohammad Khatami – a reformist – posted a video throwing his support behind Rouhani which went viral. Mohammad is banned from appearing on state media, so this had a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

Rouhani is a reformist and is widely supported by the youth, urban middle classes and other reformists. A proponent of his being banned by the state is a clear sign that he should have had their support. In a post-election act of defiance, Rouhani thanked his predecessor Mohammad Khatami for his support. In doing so, he violated the state ban on using the former president’s name.