Iranians head to the polls Friday to vote for next president

World Today

Voters in Iran will head to the polls on Friday to elect a new president. The result could have serious implications for the future of the country, and its relations with the West.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports on this year’s election.

Iranians head to the polls Friday to vote for next president

On May 19 voters in Iran will go to the polls to elect a new president, as well as local officials. Six presidential candidates were approved by Iran's Guardian Council.

On May 19 voters in Iran will go to the polls to elect a new president, as well as local officials. Six presidential candidates were approved by Iran’s Guardian Council.

The front runners include moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani who has led in recent opinion polls, followed by conservative candidates Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran, and cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

But just a week before Election Day Qalibaf dropped out, throwing his support behind Raisi—potentially consolidating the conservative vote.

The top issue is the economy- the unemployment rate is more than 12 percent and the cost of living remains high. Many question whether the Iran nuclear deal that Rouhani oversaw has helped average Iranians. Raisi has campaigned on this and proposes cash payments to the poor.

The winner will guide the future of Iran’s nuclear program along with the 12-member Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

If Rouhani wins, he will likely work to maintain the nuclear deal and foster better relations with the West.

Raisi and the conservatives would likely take a harder line towards the West and U.S. President Donald Trump.

More than 56 million Iranians are eligible to vote including 2.5 million people living abroad. Polling places have been set up in 103 countries around the world including 30 in the U.S. If no candidate receives over 50 percent there will be a run off May 26.