A mix of euphoria and relief filled the Tehran air. The long wait was over for Iranians at home and abroad. A moderate cleric had been elected.
When the cheers die down Hassan Rohani’s victory will be followed by the challenge of repairing the damage done by eight years of growing mistrust between Tehran and the West and to restore a battered economy. Daunting tasks for which he called on the people’s help in his first TV address.
“I’m proud that the great people of Iran, the honourable people, thought that I deserve this. They trusted me so that I can begin on the path to serve the country, to enhance people’s lives and welfare, and preserve national pride and national interests. I deeply feel that I need your assistance along this path. I need you to be there. I need your cooperation,” he said.
But what of support from the West? The UK urged Rohani to “set Iran on a different course for the future”. The US talked of engaging directly with Iran
and addressing the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. Voters have their own hopes as one woman explained
“I’m very grateful that Rohani won the election and that he formed an alliance with Aref. This has absolutely won the votes of the reformists. I hope he can keep his promises, his slogan of restoring wisdom and hope in this country,” she said.
Acclaim has not been universal for Rohani. It’s reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet “The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure on Iran for it to stop its nuclear programme.”