Iranian opposition figure Karoubi to vote for Rouhani in election

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However the wind blows on Friday, the choice of the Iranian people will probably entrench Tehran's muddled and malignant world view - a matter that neither reflects positively on the country, nor improves its relations with the region. "The fact is that Raisi is not a very well-known person in Iran, so I think that Rouhani will win", she said.

Raisi's popularity has risen steadily in recent weeks and Qalibaf's move should give him a last-minute boost against Rouhani, who has eased Iran's global isolation though failed to spur a sluggish economy.

A recent poll had put support for the two hardliners at 52% and for Mr Rouhani at about 42%. I am not surprised that a leading Iran hawk wants the hard-line Iranian candidate to win, because that result could and would be used to justify ratcheting up tensions with Iran.

The past few years have been a rocky ride for the Iranian electorate. The Kalameh website reported that opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, under house arrest since 2011, had requested a mobile ballot box be brought to his residence so that he could vote for Rouhani.

Non-nuclear sanctions on Iran include the United States primary sanctions that were devised following the 1979 hostage crisis and now grapple the country's banking ties with other countries.

Leading conservative Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, dropped out on Monday and threw his support behind Raisi, uniting the hardline faction and giving Raisi's chances a boost.

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Vice president and presidential contender, Es'haq Jahangiri, announced on Tuesday he has dropped out in favor of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, urging his backers to turn out in large numbers to give Rouhani a stronger mandate to press ahead with his plans to bolster the economy and promote social freedoms.

Khamenei and Raisi are "playing on old fears of worldwide interference in an attempt to see off reform in the Islamic Republic", argues Sanam Vakil, an analyst with the London-based Chatham House. The elections are seen in part as a test of Iran's economic progress under Rouhani since 2015.

Iran's president broadly manages domestic affairs while the actual head of state is the Supreme Leader, now Ayatollah Khomeini, who has constitutional authority over everything in the country, including the armed forces, foreign policy, and the judiciary.

Iran will simultaneously hold its 12th presidential election and the 5th City and Village Councils Elections on May 19.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's re-election campaign received a lift as a fellow moderate withdrew from the race, and he was endorsed by the influential grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Raisi's human rights record has troubled many.

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