Hassan Rouhani was yesterday declared Iran’s new president in a surprise outright election victory that ends eight years of conservative grip on the top office.
“This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity… over extremism,” local media reported Rouhani as saying in a first statement after his triumph.
The 64-year-old moderate cleric, a former top nuclear negotiator who has championed more constructive engagement with world powers, won outright with 18.6 million votes, or 50.68 per cent of those cast, the interior minister said.
Rouhani is expected to improve Iran’s relationship with world powers unlike President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose nuclear programme has been a subject of discord.
Crowds marched through Vali-Asr Square in central Tehran carrying pictures of the winner and chanting pro-Rouhani slogans.
In northwest Tehran, people gathered in Kaj Square and cheered as passing cars sounded their horns in approval.
Rouhani’s tally was enough to ensure there would be no run-off against the runner-up, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who came a distant second with 6.55 per cent of the votes. Top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili came third with 11.35 per cent.
Former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai and ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati won 3.88 and 2.26 million votes respectively.