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Iran election 2017

Issued on • Modified

Iranians celebrate Rouhani win, but may be expecting too much

Supporters of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani celebrate his victory in the presidential election in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS

Incumbent Iranian president Hassan Rouhani won elections with a landslide 57 percent against his hardline opponent Ebrahim Raisi.

Final results were announced at 14:00 local time. Initially Tehran remained quiet and it was business as usual. But at around 21:00 pm, a spontaneous people’s party erupted in the streets of the Iranian capital and lasted until far after midnight. But the demands people are making may go further than the new government wants to allow.

“I love it that Rouhani won the elections. I voted for him, I think that he is the best one to be the president. Because good are the same price as four year ago,” says Amsariah.

'Stolen' votes

She, and several thousands of other Tehrani, carrying purple-green flags and posters of the winning candidate walk part of the longest street of the Middle East, Valiasr Street, bursting in spontaneous singing.

“We are very happy to have selected Dr. Hassan Rouhani,” says Mustapha. “We want to send this message to the world: we want peace, we want freedom, and a good relationship with other countries!”

Many people say they want to go on celebrating with their friends by dancing and singing, and the party would last till deep in the night.
The outburst of happiness is not simply because of the Rouhani victory.

“Eight years ago we voted, but we believed that some people stole our votes,” says Magdi.

“Now we are here to say that we took our votes back. With this elections, we have our votes back.”

Some demonstrators deny that they hope that by electing Rouhani, Iran will head towards a western style democracy.

Supreme Leaders is still supreme

The current politico-religious system of Iran is a hybrid where parties and candidates with opposing views may debate, as long as no one questions the primacy of the Supreme Leader, his Guardian Council and the Revolutionary Guards that control the proverbial barrel of the gun.

“That is not something we want to do,” says Ali, who lived in London and talks with a distinguished British accent.

“We don’t even ponder about rallying on regime change. That is because it is costly and we don’t want to pay that cost.

“We are not looking forward to get something that is existing in the west, we want to get there on our feet with our own methods, with our own lives, with our own thoughts.

“So becoming a western democracy is not something that we aspire. We are Iran, and we have our own way, we will create the sort of democracy that we want,” he says.

But for others, the Rouhani win symbolizes a new step towards more freedoms.

“Rouhani will continue giving us more freedoms,” says Alaleh, who’s wearing a colorful, silk-like headscarf. But she does not like it.

“Iranian women don’t like wearing headscarves,” she says. “We are restrained because of the headscarf. We don’t like limitations, we want to be free!”

Mr. Rouhani, she says, “is fond of freedom and because of that I’m happy!”

On the corner of Valiasr Street and Motohari Avenue, members of a small group are holding up card boards with texts and slogans calling for “Peace”, “Freedom of the Press”, “Against Sexual Discrimination,” “Against Religious Discrimination” which they show to passersby.

The group exists of a psychologist, an architect and some others and seem to know each other intimately.

“We have a lot of demands,” says one of them. But when she wants to start explaining in more detail what their wishes are, two plain clothes men approach this reporter’s translator, demanding that recording devices are switched off, and “suggesting” a quick return to the hotel.

The action makes one wonder how far Iranian authorities will allow the growing demands for more freedoms to continue, and if the spontaneous outpour of hope for a better future expressed after president Hassan Rouhani’s victory is justified.