The real winner of this presidential election is supreme leader Khamenei, who reiterates the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic. The long queues at polling stations (in Iran and abroad) stayed open far later than planned. The 70 percent turnout is proof that the Islamic Republic knows how to survive its numerous existential crises.
Iranians eagerly participate in the political vicissitudes of their country, even if their elected bodies (the president and Parliament) do not dictate foreign and nuclear policy, nor do they decide war and peace. Those are prerogatives of the supreme leader.
The pragmatic Hassan Rouhani and the conservative Ebrahim Raisi contested their campaigns on economic grounds. The incumbent president Rouhani asked voters to allow him to continue the work that began with the nuclear agreement signed in July 2015, arguing he did not have enough time to boost the economy, hindered by years of sanctions and international isolation. Last year, the economy grew by 6.6 percent, mainly due to the end of the European Union’s oil embargo, which allowed crude oil exports to increase from one million barrels per day to 2.5 million.