In regards to Raisi, the Eurasia Group stated that "He lacks charisma and has put forward few concrete ideas on the economy, hurt by his very conservative background in the judiciary and his involvement in executions."An analysis entitled, "Iranian Elections: More than Just the Presidency", penned by Al-Sharq Forum expert Abdullah Yeğin affirmed that "The electoral process will have a wider influence than simply selecting a president".
Economic issues will also be on the minds of Iran's more than 56 million voters as they head to polling stations across the country.
State television showed long queues outside voting stations in several cities, shortly after polls opened at 03:30GMT.
Presidential election is also being held in 102 countries.
But US President Donald Trump has launched a 90-day review of the accord that could see it abandoned, and is visiting Iran's bitter regional rival Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Rallying behind Ebrahim Raisi will now be those loyal to Khamenei, as he is an insider figure with the Supreme Leader's support, according to Alavi.
The truth is more complex: Elections in Iran are hugely significant in shaping Tehran's foreign and domestic policy.
The 56-year-old cleric said Rowhani's long-praised nuclear deal with six world powers - which set up worldwide controls over Iran's nuclear programme in return for the end of 10 years of economic sanctions - had brought nothing for Iran. Rouhani enjoys Khamenei's blessing, otherwise he would not have been permitted to run. Of the six candidates approved, two have since dropped out.
He is thought to have the tacit backing of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the final authority in Iran's peculiar blend of democracy and theocracy. Right now there's a certain parity in Iran, and the outcome of these elections will be mainly decided by turnout. This time, she says, Rouhani has one serious opponent: the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
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Raisi was a relative unknown when he joined the race earlier this year, having mostly worked behind the scenes as a top prosecutor and recently as head of the powerful Imam Reza charitable foundation. Rowhani promised in his 2013 campaign to free the men, but hasn't.
Suzanne Maloney, a long-time observer of Iran at the Brookings Institution, says the message may be similar but the circumstances are not. But they are anxious to keep out Raisi, who they see as representing the security state at its most fearsome: in the 1980s he was one of four judges who sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death.
Surprisingly, Islam. "Candidates have seemingly concluded that Islamic ideology has lost its power as a driving factor among voters and is therefore not worth addressing", wrote Mehdi Khalaji, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who is Shiite theologian by training. Recalling the lessons of the 2005 election, which brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, can serve as a useful model in understanding this year's contest and the challenges Rouhani faces in maintaining power.
For ordinary Iranians, the election presents a stark choice between competing visions of the country. They dip one of their index fingers in ink, making a print on the form, while officials stamp their ID so they can't vote twice.
Over 60,000 ballot boxes have been prepared nationwide to receive votes. Along with that, some presidential candidates at the last moment left the presidential race and supported other presidential candidates.
That is why Ayatollah Khamanei - in a thinly veiled rebuke to Mr Rouhani - has declared some of the remarks made during the campaign "unworthy of the Iranian nation". Iran bars domestic and worldwide observers from the elections, bucking a widely accepted principle around the world that global watchdogs warn can allow for fraud.
Observers believe that the moderate president's best chances of a second term lie in a high voter turnout. The Guardian Council rejected Ahmadinejad's bid to run again in Friday's election, likely to avoid any similar conflict.
In public, he has an austere charisma, and is surrounded by an entourage with ties to the Islamic regime's most hardline elements.
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