Moderate Has Lead In Iran’s Initial Election Returns

The Associated Press and the New York Times are reporting that the reformist-backed candidate, Hasan Rowhani, has surged to a wide lead in the early vote counting in Iran on Saturday.

With more than 5 million votes tallied, Rowhani had about 52 percent of the votes, reports the AP. Opposing candidate Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf had about 17.3 percent, while hardline nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was third with about 13 percent.

As we reported on Friday, millions of Iran’s 50 million eligible voters turned out for the election to replace incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a race that is being characterized as a potential challenge to the country’s ruling Islamic clerics.

The New York Times has more:

“The early results seemed to be a repudiation of the coalition of conservative clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders, the so-called traditionalists, who consolidated power after the 2009 election, which the opposition said was rigged. The traditionalists’ favored candidate, Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and a protégé of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not seem to have gained much traction with the public, emphasizing vague concepts like “Islamic society” and standing up to Western pressure.”

The votes are still being counted and it is unclear when a final tally will be known.

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