May 20 (UPI) — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani won a second term in office by a significant margin, amid high voter turnout.
Rouhani, 68-year-old moderate, will serve four more years in office after winning 57 percent of the vote in the Friday election to defeat conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi, who received 38.5 percent of the votes, Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said.
“The National Media (IRINN) congratulate the victory of Mr. Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election,” Iran state media announced.
More than 40 million people voted in the election, which saw an unexpectedly high voter turnout of 70 percent.
Voting was extended twice due to long lines at the polls, which were originally scheduled to close at 7 p.m. across the country. Voting in the capital of Tehran was extended until 11 p.m. Polls remained open until 10 p.m. elsewhere.
Election officials said “requests” and the “enthusiastic participation of people” were responsible for the extensions.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the high turnout and stressed the importance of voting.
“I believe that the presidential election is very important. The fate of the country is in the hands of people,” he said.
Raisi was thought to be Khamenei’s candidate of choice, but Rouhani handily won re-election as no sitting president has failed to win a second term in Iran since 1981.
Rouhani promised to continue his outward-facing, moderate vision for Iran, which included signing a nuclear deal between the United States and other countries in 2015.