Thursday, May 26, 2005

Presidential Polls: Top 3 Rafsanjani 36%, Qalibaf 12%, Larijani 8%,

International News Article | Reuters.com: "TEHRAN (Reuters) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an experienced pragmatist portrayed by aides as capable of solving Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, held a big lead in a new opinion poll for June 17 presidential elections, newspapers said on Thursday.
But Rafsanjani, 70, who is bidding to regain the post he held from 1989 to 1997, was still well short of the 50 percent support he needs to avoid facing a run-off vote, the poll showed.

The survey comes a day after the European Union and Iran agreed to a two-month breathing space in their nuclear talks, deferring any possible showdown until well after the election.

The opinion poll, conducted in Tehran on May 20 and 21 by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, showed 36.2 percent of respondents said they would vote for Rafsanjani, the moderate Donya-ye Eqtesad and conservative Resalat newspapers reported.

Trailing in second place with 12.2 percent was conservative Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a former Revolutionary Guards commander and national police chief who is standing as an independent.

Next came hardline conservative Ali Larijani with eight percent, moderate cleric Mehdi Karroubi with 6.3 percent, hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with 5.7 percent and outspoken reformist Mostafa Moin with five percent.

The size of the survey sample was not given but the poll broadly echoed results of similar surveys released in recent weeks.

Nevertheless, political analysts warn that opinion polls in Iran are often unreliable and subject to manipulation by partisans of particular candidates.

To win outright on June 17 a candidate must get at least 50 percent plus one vote of all ballots cast, including blank ballots. If no candidate reaches that mark the top two vote-getters face off in a second round a week later.

Supervisory authorities have cleared eight candidates out of a field of more than 1,000 hopefuls to stand in the race.

Political commentators in local newspapers speculate that some of the less popular candidates may drop out of the race before the vote."