Saturday, June 18, 2005
Al-Reuters says Hashemi "Nuke The Jews" Rafsanjani is a "pragmatic" "moderate": Rafsanjani faces run-off vote against hard-liner. (Hat tip: LGF)
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Pragmatic cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani narrowly clinched top spot on Saturday in Iran's nail-biting presidential election, but now faces a run-off against his closest rival, hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The unexpected result left voters with a stark choice between the experienced Rafsanjani, who has pledged better ties with the West, and Tehran mayor Ahmadinejad, who appeals to the pious poor and is wary of re-opening talks with Washington.
Final Interior Ministry figures showed pre-election favorite Rafsanjani won 21.0 percent of the 29.32 million votes cast, a turnout of 63 percent. Ahmadinejad got 19.5 percent.
Ahmadinejad's performance surprised many as opinion polls had placed him well down the list of seven candidates.
But his reputation as a man of the people fiercely loyal to Iran's system of clerical rule appeared to have won him strong support in rural areas and among the urban poor, for whom unemployment and the cost of living are the main concerns.
Whoever wins, unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will keep the last word on state affairs and hard-liners will retain key levers of power such as security and the courts.