Has Rouhani succeeded in reforming Iran?

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban

Qalibaf earlier on Monday said he came to the decision to pull out of the race in favor of Raisi as part of efforts against President Rouhani's "inefficient and impotent" cabinet.

The coalition between the two conservative nominees will benefit the country's economy in a post-election era, if Raeisi manages to assume power through the election.

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf quit the Iranian presidential race on Monday, backing instead conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi in Friday's vote.

ERDBRINK: Well, I'm no fortuneteller, but I think as it is now, it looks increasingly probable that Hassan Rouhani will be Iran's next president, even though Iranian elections are notoriously hard to predict, I know for instance in the city of his two main competitors, Mashhad in north of Iran close to the Afghan border.

"I ask all my supporters to contribute their full capacity and support for the success of my brother, Ebrahim Raisi", Qalibaf said. The poll, published last week, shows Rouhani at 42 percent and Raisi with 27 percent, but the poll was conducted before Qalibaf dropped out.

He is standing for a second term against five other candidates, most of whom are prominent hardliners, on May 19, with a run-off a week later if no candidate wins more than 50% of votes cast in the first round. "At this point, it is hard to see Raisi winning the election without help from the IRGC and the Guardian Council in the form of voter fraud".

Mr Raisi, is now the head of the powerful Imam Reza shrine and charitable foundation in the holy city of Mashhad and, in addition to attracting support from traditional conservatives, is seen as the favoured candidate of the security establishment.

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Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric, was elected in 2013 by 51 per cent of votes on promises to ease Iran's global isolation and end the house arrest of opposition leaders.

"What election?! It's a puppet show run by [religious leader Ayatollah] Khamenei to create the illusion of a democracy", was tweeted by a person purporting to be an exiled Iranian living in Europe.The two candidates are portrayed as two sides of the same coin. "However, I don't think there will be a significant impact as Qalibaf got [just] six million votes in 2013", he said.

A large voter turnout in the upcoming presidential election will boost Iran's image in the worldwide arena and its diplomatic power, making major powers take a more serious account of the country, a foreign policy expert and former Iranian ambassador to Syria said.

The president is viewed as the "moderate" choice and many see the election as something of a referendum on the policies that led to a landmark deal with worldwide powers that saw Tehran curb its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. Raisi has been campaigning on that, proposing populist cash payments for the poor that have proven popular in the country in the past under Ahmadinejad.

In the absence of credible polling in Iran, it is hard to gauge Raisi's popularity across Iran, particularly given that he has not run for presidency before.

That past has anxious moderates and reformists in Iran. Both snubbed Rouhani, who himself is a cleric.

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