Rouhani eyes second term as Iran votes for new prez

May 19, 2017, 7:15 AM EDT
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani
(Source: Shervin Ashrafi/flickr)

Iranians came out in large numbers to vote in the country’s presidential election on Friday as incumbent leader Hassan Rouhani faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from a populist candidate supported by powerful security hawks.

History stands in favor of liberal Rouhani as every incumbent president has been re-elected in Iran since 1985, writes the BBC. Liberal Rouhani has been an advocate of amicable ties with West and was instrumental in striking a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in 2015.

On the other hand, Ebrahim Raisi, 56, a hardline cleric, enjoys the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his victory could spell the end of Iran’s nascent international engagement seen during Rouhani's first term, notes CNN.