Iran's President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin Saturday, giving the moderate cleric a second four-year term to see out his agenda pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world. The 68-year-old incumbent secured a commanding lead of 57% in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 voters to the polls. His nearest rival in the four-man race, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, secured 38% of the vote, the AP reports. As Rouhani appeared close to victory, some female drivers held out the V for victory sign and flashed their car lights on highways in Tehran's affluent north.
"We made the victory again. We sent back Raisi to Mashhad," his conservative hometown in northeastern Iran, Narges, a 43-year-old beauty salon owner, tells the AP. She says she spent more than three hours outside waiting to vote, "but it was worth it." In 2013, Rouhani won the presidential election with nearly 51% of the vote. Turnout for that vote was 73%. Friday's vote was largely a referendum on Rouhani's moderate political policies, which paved the way for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Iran's president is the second-most powerful figure within Iran's political system. He is subordinate to the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state.