Skip to Content

Coffee House

What on earth went right? Iranians come to terms with a landslide election

15 June 2013

9:12 PM

15 June 2013

9:12 PM

The victory of Hassan Rouhani has stunned pundits, and it seems even Iranians can’t quite believe it. He is a moderate (if not, quite, a reformer) who defeated five conservatives. He was helped by the fact that other moderates had stood back to give him a clear run. His victory was massive – 51pc of the vote – and the Iranian authorities seem to have made no attempt to conceal it. There was no need for a second vote. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has congratulated the 64-year-old Glasgow-educated Rouhani:-

“I urge everyone to help the president-elect and his colleagues in the government, as he is the president of the whole nation.”

The quotes coming through from Iranian votes show a mixture of surprise and jubilation. Here is a selection.

“I thought they would trick us, engineer a runoff with another candidate and make Rowhani lose,” Reyhan, 30, a poet, quoted by the New York Times

“…a clear sign that after the 2009 uprising, the supreme leader has learned that his regime needs to regain its legitimacy, and that will only come from counting the vote of the people” – Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian politics lecturer at Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, Israel.

An Iranian voter. Picture: BBC Persian

An Iranian voter. Picture: BBC Persian

“We did it, we showed that young people are tired of the current situation and the economy. We want change, we want freedom,” – Mohsen, in late 20s. (WSJ)

“This was supposed to be a well-regulated, well-crafted election, and then the wheels came off. It appears that the leadership miscalculated Rouhani’s appeal, and also miscalculated the ineptness of its preferred candidates and the impact of the divisions among the conservative coalition.” –  Ray Takeyh, a US former State Department adviser (Washington Post)

“My martyr brother, I got your vote back,” – a chant in Tehran’s Mohseni Square, referring to 100 victims of the 2009 protests

Screen Shot 2013-06-15 at 21.15.00

“We are not expecting miracles. He can start by working on freedom for political prisoners. Maybe it won’t happen overnight but we are hopeful.” – ,” said Maryam, a 44-year-old mother of two from Tehran. ” (WSJ)

It is unbelievable, have the people really won?” – Fatema, 58, (NYT)


This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity… over extremism” – President-elect Hassan Rouhani (right).

“The Foreign Office notes the announcement of Hassan Rowhani’s electoral victory.” – UK Government

VOTING SHARE1000169_10151552028662713_1948480395_n

Hassan Rouhani 50.7pc

Mohammad Qalibaf (Mayor of Tehran)  17pc

Saeed Jalili , 11pc

Mohsen Rezaie, 10.6pc

Ali Akbar Velayati, 6.%


Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments


The Spectator Comment Policy

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.