05/13/2017, 14.06
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Presidential elections in Iran: Rouhani versus everyone in last TV debate before the vote

Heated exchange of accusations in his debate with fellow candidates. The outgoing leader criticizes Raisi for "exploiting religion" for consensus. The mayor of Tehran recalls student riots. Rivals retort: Rouhani guilty of the economic crisis and failed agreement on nuclear power. 

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A heated exchange of accusations characterized the final televised election debate yesterday, involving the six candidates running for president on 19 May. Outgoing leader Hassan Rouhani, moderate, accused his rivals of exploiting Islam religion to gain consensus and violence against students. In response, the challengers spoke of corruption, maladministration and substantial failure of the nuclear agreement.

There is no clear front-runner on the eve of the election . Rouhani is seeking his second mandate, as has always been the case since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when all the heads of state were confirmed for a second four year term.

However, the re-election of the outgoing president is not at all desirable, although the conservatives and radical factions are fragmented inside. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote in the first round, there will be a second round run-off.

Analysts and experts agree that the upcoming elections will be a match between moderate Rouhani and conservative Ebrahim Raisi, candidate for the radical wing. The economy, in addition to the nuclear agreement, will be crucial to convincing the electorate.

Rouhani's main challenger is a favorite of Ali Khamenei's, defined as the "heir" of the spiritual guide and Shiite leader of Iran, he belongs to the hard line that opposes current leadership.

A third accredited candidate of a fair number of preferences is the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Republican Guard commander and chief of police, who also has the support of almost the entire conservative faction. The other three contenders, but with less chance of winning, are Eshaq Jahangiri, Mostafa Hashemitaba and Mostafa Mirsalim.

Rouhani - a moderate working within the establishment, in search of the votes of the Reformist electorate - attacked Raisi, who "exploits religion" to eliminate rivals and conquer power. Turning to Qalibaf recalled the management of student protests in the late 1990s and early 2000, as he ordered attacks against university students.

His opponents were ready with their responses, accusing the outgoing president of not having made progress in the economic field, even though he obtained an easing of Western sanctions. The mayor of Tehran spoke of "economic crisis, unemployment, recession and inflation". Raisi recalled the 250,000 small businesses who have closed the doors and promised greater support for the poorest classes.

Rouhani has reassured that he will work to get the cancellation of the sanctions still in force. However, the fiercest match was played around the theme of corruption with crossfire of accusations and veiled threats of hidden files ready to be published.

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