Nonetheless, the president could influence the selection process for the next supreme leader if Mr. Khamenei, said to be in ill health, were to pass away within the next four years.If re-elected, President Rouhani will "exert more effort to rid his country of the remaining sanctions", but the rivalry between conservative principlists and reformists will intensify, says Ali Hashem, a columnist for Al Monitor.
Raisi is widely seen as Khamenei's preferred candidate - indeed, he is often mentioned as his possible successor.
Raisi has described voters' choice as one between "inefficiency" and "efficiency". He accused Rohani of overreliance on foreign investment to fix economic problems. Raisi is also the custodian of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad, the most visited and important holy site in Iran, and has strong base of support among rural, religious, poor and hardline clerics.
In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Russian political analyst Nikolai Kozhanov said that Moscow is not particularly concerned about the results of the presidential elections in Iran, which kicked off on Friday.
After voting, Raisi told journalists that all should "completely surrender to the result of the election".
He characterized those segments as "a young, modern Iranian population eager for change, and an entrenched, dogmatic military and clerical establishment eager to crush change". The nuclear deal was essentially a bet by the United States that Iran would change over a decade and lose its appetite to pursue nuclear weapons. And to ensure that the final results of the election look as if they have been exclusively determined by the people's ballot.
Rohani has managed to slash inflation from official figures of about 30 percent to 9 percent and spur economic growth.
The official unemployment rate is 12.5%, and much higher for the university-educated. Most think that he had little chance in the polls.
Some observers of Iran calculate that the West would be better off with a victory by Mr. Raisi, who would likely return Iran to global isolation and fuel domestic discontent. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds arrested, human rights groups say, in the worst unrest to hit the Islamic Republic.
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Rouhani enjoys the backing of former President Mohammad Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005. He has called on voters to give him another four years to achieve all his promises, including rebuilding an economy that has suffered under sanctions and mismanagement. Directly underneath him is the senior cadre of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). But Raisi has criticized this approach, arguing Iran should take a tougher stance internationally.
Rohani's supporters are warning that the future of their country is at stake and say they don't want to end up embroiled in conflict like some of their Middle Eastern neighbors.
Raisi, 56, and Rouhani, 68, traded charges of graft and brutality on live television with an open vehemence unseen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"We all want to show that we want to have freedom".
Raisi has promised his supporters more cash handouts and a redistribution of the country's wealth.
Some 350,000 members of the security forces were deployed around the country to protect the election, state television reported.
"He is an efficient manager and also because he is mindful of the weak and deprived classes of the society", another Iranian said, "a class that is being crushed under economic problems". It would also mean that the West has a negotiating partner that wants to bring Iran back in from the diplomatic cold and become a responsible member of the worldwide community.
However, regardless of how this struggle plays out behind closed doors and who is decided as the next president, ultimately all of the competing powerful factions will unite around the following objectives: to project the appearance of the election as having had a high turnout and level of enthusiasm among those eligible to vote, thus lending legitimacy to, and bolstering the mandate of, the eventual victor.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most powerful man in Iran, symbolically cast the election's first vote and called on Iranians to turn out in huge numbers for the poll.
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