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TEHRAN, Iran — In the end, Iran's presidential election may be defined by who doesn't vote.As polls opened early Friday, arguments over whether to boycott the ballot still boiled over at coffee shops, kitchen tables and on social media among many liberal-leaning Iranians. The choice — once easy for many who turned their back in anger after years of crackdowns — has been suddenly complicated by an unexpected chance to perhaps wage a bit of payback against Iran's rulers.The rising fortunes of the lone relative moderate left in the race, former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, has brought something of a zig-or-zag dilemma for many Iranians who faced down security forces four years ago: Stay away from the polls in a silent protest or jump back into the mix in a system they claim has been disgraced by vote rigging.
Iranians vote in key presidential electionsVIDEO: Iran's election in 90 seconds: One of these men will be Iran's next president. But will they hold real power?Millions of voters across Iran are casting their ballots in the country's presidential elections.Although all six candidates are seen as conservatives, one of them, cleric Hassan Rouhani, has been reaching out to the reformists in recent days.The election will decide a successor to outgoing leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.His eight years in power have been characterised by economic turmoil and Western sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.Ayatollah's callPolls across Iran opened at 08:00 local time (03:30 GMT) and are due to close at 18:00 (13:30 GMT). Some 50 million people are eligible to cast their ballots.
Moderate cleric Hassan Rohani took a commanding lead ahead of conservative rivals in Iran's presidential election, according to initial results, but his tally appeared narrowly insufficient to avoid a second round run-off on June 21.With about 5 percent of the votes counted, the former nuclear negotiator appeared to have benefited from a late surge in support among liberal Iranians attracted by his progressive policies.Under the election rules, a candidate has to win more than 50 percent of the total votes cast to win outright. A first round winner gaining less than that must compete with the runner-up in a second round a week later.
Is this a good outcome? My Iranian friends say elections are rigged and boxes stuffed.