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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC



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Iran presidential election

May 19, 2017

Iranians are voting across the country to choose their next president. It's being widely painted as a straight fight between hardline candidates and more moderate reformers.

Whoever comes out on top, the result will have profound implications for the future of Iran and the broader Middle East.

The election campaign started with six candidates. Newspapers here clearly express support for their favorites.

Politics in Iran are basically fought between the moderate-reformist camp who promote dialogue with the international community and the hardliners calling for the defense of the spirit of the Islamic Revolution and maintaining an anti-American stance.

The frontrunner is the moderate incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani. He stresses that he was the one who achieved the 2015 deal with world powers over Iran's nuclear program that led to the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

The campaign started with Rouhani facing two major hardline candidates. Hardline supporters were split, while most moderates and reformists are rallying behind Rouhani.

The election was initially seen as an easy victory for Rouhani. But the hardliners are quickly catching up.

Just 4 days before voting, one of the leading hardline candidates withdrew from the race, a move aiming to consolidate the hardline votes.

As a result, Ebrahim Raisi, a former senior member of the judiciary, has become the united candidate for the hardliners.

He criticizes Rouhani as a candidate for the rich who doesn't care about the everyday needs of ordinary people.

Raisi's support is boosted by US president Donald Trump's tough stance against Iran.

An election that was initially seen as an approval test for the incumbent has turned instead into a direct confrontation between Iran's two political camps.

Newsroom Tokyo anchor Sho Beppu is joined by NHK Tehran Bureau Chief, Kentaro Shinagawa. Watch the video for his analysis.