The hardline mayor of Tehran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won Iran’s presidential election. He appears to have won over 60 percent of the vote, on a turnout of 47 percent, well down on the first round participation of 63 percent. A spokesman for rival Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says he has accepted defeat. As in the first round, voting was extended by several hours after a late surge of voters at polling stations. An unnamed interior ministry official says Ahmadinejad got massive support from poor provinces. Exit polls indicate he picked up the lion’s share of votes in southern Tehran and the holy city of Qom.
There are accusations of illegal voting-day campaigning, and the Rafsanjani camp also claims the hardline Basij militia has been intimidating voters to support Ahmadinejad. Some analysts say both men are polarising figures in a divided society of 67 million mostly young people. Rafsanjani, 70 years old, is a former president and wealthy businessman running as a modernising moderate who appeals to the upper and middle classes. Ahmedinejad, 48, has a modest lifestyle and promises to fight corruption and redistribute Iran’s oil wealth. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned people to avoid street celebrations.