Although Facebook and Twitter are officially blocked in Iran, social media platforms in Iran are playing a significant role ahead of the presidential elections this week where the two leading candidates are reformist incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who oversaw the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
However, Hashemitaba did not say if he is going to withdraw from the presidential race.
After the wildcard candidacy of hardline ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on April 20 struck down by Iran's Guardian Council, analysts had anticipated a clear head to head between centrist incumbent Hassan Rouhani and religious judge Ebrahim Raisi, seen by some analysts as odds-on favourite to succeed 77-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and as someone capable of galvanising conservatives. If Mr. Rouhani were to win a second term, Iran is likely to continue its course of open dialogue with Asia and Europe while signing new economic agreements with new partners who have been on standby since the rollback of sanctions following the nuclear deal. All candidates must be vetted by a hardline body.
The nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers ended a decadeslong crisis that removed sanctions on almost 80 million Iranians and potentially averted another military confrontation in the Middle East involving the United States. Raisi has promised a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Ghalibaf and Raisi clashed with Rouhani during last Friday's nationally televised debate.
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According to local Iranian news outlet Tasnim News Agency, Raisi reportedly expressed his gratitude to Ghalibaf saying 'I thank him.
"The leverage of my power does not possess some things, but some things will be possible with a vote of more than 51 percent", he said during a campaign stop in western Iran.
For the past several months the ultra-conservative camp has been vocal in its criticism of Mr. Rouhani's agenda, dismissing his economic and political outreach to the West as being naive and risky for the ideological future of the Iranian system. Iranians go to the polls on Friday.
"There's nothing that....brings out young, liberal voters like a hard-line conservative, which Raisi is", Kupchan said.
"To me, supporting Dr. Rouhani and voting for him is equal to supporting the mighty Iranian nation", Jahangiri said. Rouhani's supporters used Telegram to bypass the country's censorship, because Iran's media has been banned for over two years from publishing the name or images of Khatami himself. "Raisi is already being considered as the main candidate".
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