Iranians are voting in their presidential election on Friday, choosing between the current President Hassan Rouhani and hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
This comes against a background of tension between Iran and the United States following the election of Donald Trump.
Which gives Europe a special role according to MEP Klaus Buchner, a member of the parliamentary delegation for relations with Iran: “We are not a colony of the United States. So we have an independent policy, and I think the EU is very much committed to continuing to improve the situation.”
Rouhani has staked all on the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme which has led to the lifting of international sanctions.
Political analyst Majid Golpour with the Free University of Brussels told Euronews: “In effect by focusing on the nuclear issue, Rouhani has pulled back from several other issues, including human rights in Iran. And it must be said that it’s not clear why the [European] Commission is not pursuing the issue of human rights.”
But Majid Golpour also pointed out, the real power in Iran power lies not with president but with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: “As soon as the negotiations between the US and Iran resumed, the Obama administration, which was aware of who has the power in Iran, conducted direct relations with the Supreme Leader of Iran. If we look at China and Russia, if they have things to do on a regional level, they directly contact the administration of the Supreme Leader.”
The question of this election is can Raisi win with promises handouts for the poor, though without saying how this would be funded, or can Rouhani prevail with those who want more democracy and social freedoms?