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Iranian President Rouhani looks to beat hard-liner as country prepares to vote

TEHRAN, IRAN—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani staked his political future on opening Iran ever so slightly to the outside world and overcoming hard-liners’ opposition to secure a historic nuclear deal in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions.He’ll soon find out if voters think it’s enough to keep him in the job.The 68-year-old cleric, a moderate within Iran’s political system, has history on his side as Iranians vote for president Friday. No incumbent president has failed to win re-election since 1981, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader and most powerful man in Iran, became president himself.Political analysts and the scant polling data that’s available suggest Rouhani will come out on top among the four candidates left running, though an outright win is by no means assured. Failure to secure a majority Friday would send the two top vote-getters into a runoff a week later.His supporters streamed into downtown Tehran streets thick with police for rallies that lasted into the early hours Thursday, just ahead of a 24-hour no-campaigning period before the vote. Wearing Rouhani’s signature purple on ribbons and loosely draped head scarves, they honked, cheered and chanted slogans in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of two Iranian opposition leaders under house arrest since 2011 who back Rouhani.Article Continued BelowRead more:Iran reformist drops out of presidential race, supports RouhaniIran’s top leader urges high turnout in vote to send message to U.S.Supporters of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a campaign rally in Tehran on May 17.  (ATTA KENARE)  

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