Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Run-off likely in Iran presidential election - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Newspaper

Run-off likely in Iran presidential election - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Newspaper: "Iran News Jun 14th, 2005 - 09:08:11

Run-off likely in Iran presidential election
Jun 14, 2005
Allies of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, front-runner in Iran's presidential race, said on Tuesday he would probably fall short of an outright win in polls on Friday which analysts say are the closest in the Islamic state's history.

Opinion polls show pragmatic conservative Rafsanjani, 70, is favorite to reclaim the post he held from 1989 to 1997.

But the mid-ranking cleric remains short of the 50 percent support needed to avoid a run-off against his nearest rival.

"It's increasingly unlikely that we'll have a winner after the first round," said political analyst Mahmoud Alinejad.

Rafsanjani's closest rivals are outspoken reformist Mostafa Moin, 54, a former higher education minister under outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, and former police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a conservative who is running as an independent.

The tight race has aroused greater interest in the country of 67 million people than many analysts had forecast. But many have still not decided if they will vote and, if they do, who to vote for.

"I want to place my ballot, but whatever I think about the eight nominees, I cannot find anything presenting my opinion," said Ali, 40, a carpet salesman in the Tehran bazaar. "That is the difficulty most Iranians are facing."

Rafsanjani is favored by Iran's business elite, who think he will liberalise the state-heavy economy, and by many in the West who believe he has the political weight to steer Iran's foreign policy toward better ties with the United States.

"Up to now the situation favors Rafsanjani, but reality is sometimes different," Gholamhossein Karbaschi, a former Tehran mayor and close ally of Rafsanjani, told Reuters. "He still doesn't have 50 percent.""