Hardliner wins Iran presidential runoff

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran's hardline conservative mayor, has won the Iranian presidential election with a landslide of 61.8%, according to Iran's Interior Ministry. "The figures show that Ahmadinejad is the winner," Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said to reporters. His rival Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani received 35.7% of the vote. An estimated 23 million votes were cast -- making voter turnout nearly 49 per cent. This runoff is the first since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Ahmadinejad was seen as the underdog and was not expected to make it into the runoff, but active campaigning by his supporters and their crossing of class barriers propelled him into the runoff and ultimately into the presidency. He had the political support of low-income workers, vigilante groups and militias while calling for a return to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Ahmadinejad is a former commander in the Revolutionary Guard, former provincial governor of Maku and then Ardabil. As an ardent and loyal supporter of the ruling clerics and the Ayotollah Ali Khamenei, his appointment as mayor of Tehran by the city council surprised few.