Voices of Iranians ahead of presidential election

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Now, disappointment over the deal threatens to unseat a president.

Although the unelected supreme leader holds ultimate authority in Iran and all candidates must be vetted by a hardline clerical body, elections are nevertheless hotly contested and have the power to deliver change within a system of government overseen by Shi'ite Muslim religious authorities. If he wins, the backlash from more conservative forces may be swift.

Taxi driver Ali Mousavi, too, is one of millions of Iranians fretting about the economy's continued torpor despite the lifting of sanctions under Rouhani's deal with world powers to curb Iran's disputed nuclear program. He has pledged to triple government subsidies, now $12 a month for the poorest Iranians.

He also said that the Obama administration was not reactive enough to Iran's violations. "Raisi has sought to exploit this weakness through a populist message". Human rights activists and leaders from ethnic minorities in Iran have come out in his support.

During Rouhani's first term, he opened his country to the West, brokering the 2015 nuclear deal that requires Iran to reduce its nuclear capacity and the West to ease sanctions in turn.

"The first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, was impeached", the analyst said. "If it's undercut by Iranian rejection of what the deal brought, it will be more hard to anticipate it enduring more than months".

Suspicions that the Guards and Basij falsified election results in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to nationwide protests in 2009. The juxtaposition is coincidental, but it conveyed the sense that Washington and Tehran are on a collision course. A win for Raisi would significantly shift power towards the conservatives, who advocate a stricter interpretation of Islamic law. The Trump administration, however, will likely follow the US president's confrontational policy towards Iran, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming elections.

Rouhani told his hard-line opponents they were not equipped to continue his diplomatic efforts. The Strategy Council of Sunnis in Iran offered a similar endorsement.

'How can what Trump says be anything but damaging?' said Siavash Sharivar, a civic society organiser who has been helping the Rouhani campaign.

If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote on Friday, a run-off will be held a week later. "At the end of the week, Rouhani is gone".

Yet, Iran's unemployment rate a year ago climbed 1.4 percent, to 12.4 percent, even though the economy added 600,000 jobs in 2016. Going forward, more production gains will likely need to come from new projects and new investment, probably requiring the help of global oil companies. In the past few decades, Iran has sent weapons and hundreds of millions of dollars to anti-Israel terrorist groups, in particular Hezbollah and Hamas. Let's focus for a moment on Raisi, the conservative candidate. Michel cited the wait for such a waiver as one of the main issues holding up Total's investment. "Incomes have fallen except for Tehran, so people don't feel better off and are susceptible to promises of cash".

"We just have one request: for the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards to stay in their own place for their own work", Rouhani said in a campaign speech in the city of Mashad, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

And yet, this election may be an important inflection point in Iran's modern history.

Since the president is mainly a powerless puppet, they argue, voting in presidential elections is nothing short of playing a vicious game whose rules have been set by the regime.

Rouhani also publicly criticized the IRGC for its missile tests, attacks on the Saudi embassy and its provocations in the region, as the reason for the low level of investments in Iran's economy, and by extension, the unemployment crisis.

The three-week campaign has been marked by boundary-pushing politicking among what were originally six candidates. "It also employs tens of thousands of people".

Sharivar was speaking at a rally for Rouhani at the Shobada Centre, in Tehran's Imam Khomeini Square.

Rouhani seems to be positioning himself as the anti-establishment candidate who dared to negotiate with the enemy, the United States, to secure the nuclear deal known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In 2005, along with others in Iran's national student union, Nabavi supported an election boycott. His campaigning has been more effective because he has got more money behind him. Many of them, whether they be married or not, still live with their parents because of a shortage of affordable housing. But that is not a permanent state of affairs. But critics say he oversold the economic benefits, while his popularity has been dented by continuing stagnation and high unemployment.

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