It is a stunning electoral victory by any measure; the most moderate of the six candidates in Iran’s presidential election, Hassan Rohani has not just won, he has obliterated his challengers.
He finished with more than 18.5 million votes, some 12 million more than his nearest challenger, the Mayor of Tehran, who could only muster 16.5% of the vote to Rohani’s just-under 51%.
The margin of victory means there will be no potentially divisive second round, and will have been noted by Iran’s clerical elite as a massive expression of the people’s desire for change.
It puts to an end the Ahmedinejad era. The outgoing president’s eight years in power were notable for steadily deteriorating relations with the West, global isolation, and economic stagnation.
While Ahmedinejad became a hero to those in the Arab world who wanted the toughest of lines taken against America and Israel, it seems the Iranians are fed up with fighting the Arab world’s battles and would like something more like normal foreign relations.
Any doubts about the significance of this election are confounded by the high turnout, estimated at over 72%. People were hungry to vote, and hungry for a new direction.