Voting has begun in the first round of the Iranian presidential election, a poll which is being billed as the most important in a decade for the Islamic Republic.
46 million people are eligible to vote, rather fewer eligible to stand after clerical vetting eliminated all but three challengers to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi appears to be the best placed with a chance to deny the president a second four-year term, after a three-week campaign that stirred the Iranian people like none other before it, bringing huge crowds out into the streets. Ahmadinejad has revived the slogans that brought him to power, promising social justice and a better deal for the poor, although his critics accuse him of economic failure, antagonising the international community and lying about his achievements. Whoever wins will have to tackle high inflation and falling revenues due to lower prices for Iran’s oil and gas, and international pressure to abandon a suspected nuclear arms programme.