Iran reformist drops out of election, supports Rouhani

Iran's reformist first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, on Tuesday pulled out of this week's presidential election and endorsed the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, ISNA news agency reported.

Vetted by the Guardian Council, initially six candidates qualified to compete in Iran's 12th presidential election.

Jahanigir is part of the president's inner circle and was universally regarded as a "support" candidate for Rouhani.

During the previous presidential election in June 2013, Hassan Rouhani garnered 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million votes.

Jahanigir, who was previously a protégé of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, has also been an important link between the technocrats and the centrists allied to Rouhani.

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Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a figure in the principlist political faction who struggled to drum up support for his presidential campaign by hammering President Rouhani, dropped out of race on Monday in favor of Raisi.

The election is largely viewed as a referendum on the nuclear deal struck with world powers and shepherded by Rouhani's administration.

Iran has since resumed crucial oil exports to Europe and concluded billion-dollar deals to purchase passenger planes, but the effects have yet to trickle down to most Iranians, creating an opening for hard-liners, who feel Rouhani gave too much away.

Raisi is believed to be Rouhani's main rival in the race but it's not clear if Raisi will be unable to unseat him.

Addressing the Iranian people, he said, "We hope that on the day of the election (May 19), we would decide our fate for the coming years and decades".

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