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Iran presidential election: Record turnout in crucial vote

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Staff Writer |
Iran elections
Elections   A fiercely contested race

Millions of voters converged on the polling stations Friday to decide the outcome of a fiercely contested race between two competing visions.

The choice was whether to hand pragmatic Hassan Rouhani a stronger mandate to push through much-needed reforms, or give a chance to principlist Ebrahim Raeisi who believes the incumbent and his aides have mismanaged the economy.

Rouhani is a staunch supporter of broader international engagement and liberal economic reforms.

His four years in office is defined by the landmark July 2015 nuclear deal with the six world powers. The agreement, among other things, is aimed at attracting foreign investment and high-tech to rebuild the stagnant economy.

Rouhani has made a campaign promise to work toward the removal of "all the remaining sanctions" hampering economic ties with Europe and Asia.

The president faced stiff competition from Raeisi, 57, a long-serving member of the judiciary and current custodian of Astan Qods Razavi, the huge conglomerate in charge of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eight Shia imam.

Although announcing that he will uphold the nuclear pact should he win, Raeisi has pointed to the economic difficulties as proof that Rouhani's diplomatic efforts have failed and has advocated an "inward-looking" policy for reviving the sluggish economy.

The cleric has also pledged to boost welfare benefits for the poor, create millions of jobs and fight corruption.

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