Iran's presidential elections: polling day as it happened

Last modified: 03: 00 PM GMT+0
• Reformists throw weight behind Hassan Rouhani
• Authorities impose severe media restrictions
• Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urges all Iranians to vote
Read the latest summary

Mood in Tehran

Many voters in Gisha, Sa'adatabad, Shahrak Gharb where it's generally have been going to the polls in favour of Rouhani, according to Kelly Niknejad of the Tehran Bureau.

I have also heard that polls in west and central Tehran have been pretty busy, too. But turnout in these neighborhoods does not appear to be as high as 2009.

There are still plenty of people who insist on boycotting the poll. But a hopeful atmosphere has been created and things feel positive. For a city and nation that's been pummeled and hopeless for the past four years, it's such a change.

Most of those voting think the likelihood of fraud is high and want to make sure authorities pay a high price if they cheat again.

They also are voting to show that they are against this regime. Most of us don't believe in Rouhani but we're trusting in Khatami and Hashemi in backing him.


Here's a summary of the main events:

Millions of Iranians have gone to the polls to elect a successor to president Mahmoud Ahmadinjad. If none of the six contenders competing secures 50% of the vote, a run-off will be held between the two leading candidates on 21 June.

Polling stations will close within the next hour after polling was extended by two hours. There have been mixed reports about the turnout. Officials and some journalists reported long queues at polling stations. But there were some reports that voter numbers were significantly down on the 2009 vote.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iranians to vote in large numbers and derided Western misgivings about the credibility of the vote. After casting his vote he said: "I recently heard that someone at the US, National Security Council said 'we do not accept this election in Iran'. We don't give a damn."

Campaign managers of the only moderate candidate in the race, Hassan Rouhani, have complained of irregularities. They claim there was deliberate attempt to confuse reformists voters at thousands of polling stations by failing to update election lists to show that reform candidate had dropped out of the race. They also complained of a delay in the issuing of paper work for their election monitors.

• Severe restrictions have been imposed in Iran on foreign and domestic media to ensure that coverage of the election is tightly controlled. International media watchdogs and journalists say most visa applications from foreign news organisations to cover the contest have been rejected or simply ignored.

Khamemei decides

It is foolish to try to call the election, cautions the respected Iran watcher Karim Sadjadpour.

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, he says insights into the mind of the supreme leader are a better guide than any opinion polls.

A close reading of Iranian politics over the last decade would suggest that Friday's presidential election could well be decided on the principle of "one man, one vote" -- that one man, of course, being Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ...

Those who trust the integrity of the electoral process – an increasingly small group – foresee a run-off between Rouhani and Ghalibaf. Those who believe that Khamenei's decision is paramount project Jalili as the obvious winner. And perhaps for the first time, Khamenei may see his interests in conflict with those of the Revolutionary Guards.

If past is precedent, however, there's one thing we do know: predicting anything about Iran's opaque politics is a fool's errand. And, having never progressed beyond college calculus I am no Nate Silverzadeh. But if there's something that seems like a good bet, it's that the Supreme Leader will remain supreme.


Voting extended

Voting will be extended by two hours, according to Press TV.

This will mean the polls close at 8pm local time (4.30pm BST).

The women's queue at the Amin Mosque in the eastern city of Mashhad was longer than the men's, according to a Tehran Bureau reporter. Many of the women said they were voting Rouhani.

But there were fewer voters for Rouhani in the Navab district of Tehran. Most of there went to Jalili and Ghalibaf.

Iranian women wait in line to cast their vot at a polling station during the Iranian presidential elections in Tehran.
ueIranian women wait in line to cast their vot at a polling station during the Iranian presidential elections in Tehran. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA Photograph: ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/EPA

Ahmadinejad votes

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left it late to vote for his successor, but he is now reported to have voted, according to ISNA.

Voting in London

British Iranian James Asfa describes the experience of voting at the Iranian embasssy in London, in a series of Twitter updates. Here's a selection.

Small group of communist protestors calling voters traitors. Responses of god is great #IranElections

— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) June 14, 2013

Impressed with orderly queue for #IranElections in London. #NotOurStrongPoint

— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) June 14, 2013

Voting wasn't very secret. Everyone looking at who everyone else voted for. Typically Iranian. #IranElections

— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) June 14, 2013

Paint thrown on Iranian consulate in London. Not sure when. #IranElections

— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) June 14, 2013

Foreign office minister Alistair Burt damned the vote with faint praise.

Iranians have only a restricted choice in #Iranelection but we support their right to vote today- including at London polling station #Iran

— Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtFCO) June 14, 2013

Head dress

On conservative websites, you would never usually see a women pictured without a closely tied headscarf.

But on polling days, when the authorities are keen to try to showcase a country united despite differences, normal rules don't apply.

A picture by the conservative Nasim news agency shows a young Iranian women with virtually no head-covering. Her headscarf appears to be loosely tied at the back of her head.

Picture: Polling day is the only time in #Iran you can see such a photo on a conservative website:

— Saeed Kamali Dehghan (@SaeedKD) June 14, 2013


Rouhani ahead?

Rouhani is ahead in Qom and Isfahan in early ballot counts, according to a Tehran Bureau reporter citing well-placed sources.

He said five of the counts were in districts close to the Shrine of Masoumeh. They all showed a significant lead for Rouhani.

Tehran Bureau's Twitter feed has more updates.

The FT's Najmeh Bozorgmehr is being spun a similar a line.

A senior politician, close to Rafsanjani & Rohani, tells me Rohani is far ahead of Qalibaf across the country. Don't know if right or not.

— Najmeh Bozorgmehr (@Najmeh_Tehran) June 14, 2013


State TV coverage

Iran's state-run TV is broadcasting rolling coverage of people voting across the country with a string of interviews with people sympathetic to the system.

Here's a flavour:

"I am here to vote because of my leader [Khamenei]," said one Iranian on channel 1 of the IRIB. "I'm happy to have a say in my country's fate," said another.

One first-time voter said: "I've been staying in the queue for one hour to vote but that's no pain, I can wait for hours."

A middle-aged man said: "Our beloved soldiers gave their life for this revolution and became martyr [in Iran-Iraq war] so waiting for hours in the queue is nothing in comparison to that. It's my duty."

Journalist Omid Memarian urges wariness about state TV coverage.

An eyewitness around Vanak square: "the Iranian TV uses archive footage too, I went to vote and from 8am to 3pm just 30 people voted!" #iran

— Omid Memarian (@Omid_M) June 14, 2013


Voting extended

Iran's interior minister has confirmed that voting will be extended, Press TV reports.

Polls had been due to stay open until 6pm local time (3.30 BST). It is unclear when they will now close.

Mohammad-Najjar said the voter turnout at the Friday elections has been high and thus the polling stations will remain open for more hours beyond the initial deadline.

A woman looks at a board at a polling station in Tehran.
A woman looks at a board at a polling station in Tehran. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex Features Photograph: Xinhua / Rex Features

Among the people who participated in today's election in Iran is Ebrahim Yazdi, secretary general of the Freedom Movement of Iran, a banned political group critical of the ruling system.

"Today's election is about choosing between bad and worse … Voting is a national duty and a right given to you by God," he told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

At least three children of the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was disqualified from standing in this election, are also reported to have voted. Rafsanjani backed Hassan Rouhani earlier in the week.

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani votes during the Iranian presidential election in the Jamaran mosque in northern Tehran.
Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani votes in the Jamaran mosque in northern Tehran. Photograph: Fars/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters


Website blocked

Access to Farda, a news website close to Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, has been blocked today. "It has been blocked for continuing to campaign although its period has now expired," said Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an official in charge of censoring websites.



Voting hours are expected to be extended, the BBC reports citing the interior minister, amid signs of a high turnout in some areas.

Voting hours in Iran's presidential election are to be extended, the country's interior minister says

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 14, 2013

"There were very, very long queues on Sajjad Street in the eastern city of Mashhad," a Tehran Bureau correspondent reports.

Both the women's and men's line were overflowing. People were very excited and optimistic. They were talking about Ayatollah Khamenei's speech after he voted.

SMS and the internet is still available, which many see as a sign that the vote won't be stolen this time. 

At least five old men asked me what number correlated to a vote for Rouhani.

Friend from #Iran writes:'Just visited several polls stations in west Tehran, they were all crowded;ppl waiting in long queues to vote .

— Toula Vlahou (@ToulaVlahouCBS) June 14, 2013

Meanwhile, in Qom...

Men stand in line to vote during the Iranian presidential election at a mosque in Qom, 120 km (74.6 miles) south of Tehran.
Men stand in line to vote at a mosque in Qom. Photograph: Fars News/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters


What next?

If none of the six candidates get 50% of the vote, the election will go to a runoff on 21 June.

Golnaz Esfandiari, of Radio Free Europe, looks at various runoff scenarios.

If the opinion polls are to be believed (big if), the most likely runoff will be between Ghalibaf and the moderate Rouhani. But experts reckon Rouhani won't be allowed to win any runoff, Esfandiari notes.



Kelly Niknejad has more on complaints from Rouhani's supporters that the name of one of the candidates who withdrew is still appearing at polling stations (see earlier).

The campaign suspects that the authorities are trying to confuse reform and centrist voters, she says.

Photographs from one polling station showed the name of the reform candidate Mohammad Reza Aref still listed as one of seven candidates. Aref withdrew from the race earlier this week together with Golan-Ali Haddad-Adel, whose name is crossed out on the photographed notice.

Notice on a polling station still showing the name of Mohammad Reza Aref as a candidate in the election. Photograph: Anonymous Photograph: Anonymous


Dilemma for reformers

Many Iranians, especially those who lost faith in the fairness of Iranian polls after the 2009 "rigged" election, are still undecided whether to vote.

Since the endorsement of Hassan Rouhani by the reformist leaders, many have changed their minds and have decided to vote and even encouraging others to vote.

They argue that not voting for Rouhani will only increase the winning chances of Saeed Jalil, who is a hardliner.

Thousands of Iranians on facebook changed their profile photo to thie Green sign "I Vote". #iranelection #iran

— Negar Mortazavi (@negarmortazavi) June 14, 2013

Meanwhile, Rouhani's campaign website has been down since this morning, reports Kelly Niknejad from the Tehran Bureau.

His campaign had asked voters to write their names, numbers and addresses of the ballot box on his website, she points out.


Candidate's polling comments

Here's a roundup of what each candidate said after casting their votes:

Saeed Jalili

Any candidate that people choose and comes out of ballot box, should be respected by everyone.

Saeed Jalili waves to his supporters during his campaign rally at Heydarnia stadium in downtown Tehran.
Saeed Jalili waves to his supporters during his campaign rally at Heydarnia stadium in downtown Tehran. Photograph: Hanif Shoaei/Demotix/Corbis Photograph: Hanif Shoaei/ Hanif Shoaei/Demotix/Corbis

Ali Akbar Velayati

I request the entire Iranian nation to come to the ballot boxes enthusiastically and elect their favourite candidate since people's participation in the presidential and (city and village) councils elections is a reaffirmation of their support for the Islamic Republic ruling system.

Presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati  casts his ballot.
Presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati casts his ballot. Photograph: Fars News/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters

Mohsen Rezaei

We make our own destiny [by voting] and this is why we should protect it and participate [in the election actively].

Iranians walk past posters of the presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, a former Revolutionary Guard commander.
Iranians walk past posters of the presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, a former Revolutionary Guard commander. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP

Hassan Rouhani

Tomorrow is the day of victory for people of Iran... If people come and vote then it's a victory for us as a country because enemies wanted them to boycott the election.

Hassan Rouhani shows his identity papers after casting his ballot in Tehran.
Hassan Rouhani shows his identity papers after casting his ballot in Tehran. Photograph: Fars News/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters

Mohammad Gharazi

It's up to people to decide and whatever they say and whatever the interior ministry and the Guardian Council announces, I will accept. I completely trust the Guardian Council [which monitors the voting process].

Iranian presidential candidate Mohammad Qarazi speaks during a press conference in Tehran earlier this month.
Iranian presidential candidate Mohammad Qarazi speaks during a press conference in Tehran earlier this month. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images Photograph: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf

I want to bring fundamental change to my country by focusing on development and justice.... People's choice will be respected by me, too.

Presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Galibaf  shows the ink on his finger after casting his ballot during the Iranian presidential election.
Mohammad-Bagher Galibaf shows the ink on his finger after casting his ballot. Photograph: Fars News/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters


Polling day stats

Iran's interior minister, Mostafa Najjar, has said 60,000 polling stations have been set up across the country, the state-run Press TV reported. More than 50 million Iranians are eligible to vote, among them 1.6 million eligible for the first time.

Iranians living abroad can vote in 290 polling centres in 96 countries, according to Press TV.


Candidate profiles

For background, here are brief profiles of the six candidates standing in today's election in Iran:

Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani, 65, is the only cleric among the eight candidates, but is seen as a pro-reform moderate figure expected to win the support of the country's reformers. He is a former chief Iranian nuclear negotiator who served as the secretary of Iran's supreme national security council for 16 years. Under the former president Mohammad Khatami's presidency, Rouhani was responsible for negotiating with the west over Tehran's nuclear dossier. Under Rouhani, Iran halted its enrichment of uranium and showed more cooperation with the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Organisation. He is keen to transform Iran's damaged relations with the west. Rouhani is seen as a close ally of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the relative reformer who was disqualified from standing in the June vote. Rouhani has signalled he will work to secure the release from house arrest of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Mohsen Rezaee

Rezaee, 59, was chief commander of Iran's powerful revolutionary guards for 16 years. He is currently the secretary of Iran's expediency council, which mediates between the parliament and the Guardian Council. Rezaee has run for president before, including in 2009, when he lost to Ahmadinejad. He is sympathetic to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but is running as an independent candidate in the June presidential vote. Despite his conservatism, he has shown relatively more tolerance towards the freedom of expression. In recent years, Rezaee has been associated with a number of news websites that are conservative but have shown more objectivity, relatively speaking.

Saeed Jalili

Jalili, 48, is the secretary of the supreme national security council and the head of Iran's nuclear negotiating team. With Iran's nuclear dossier in the spotlight, Jalili has become the public face of Iran's nuclear programme, meeting with high-level western diplomats in international venues trying to find a solution to the deadlock between Tehran and the west. Under Jalili's supervision, Iran's nuclear programme has come under unprecedented levels of scrutiny. Jalili is a close ally of Khamenei and is seen by many as the supreme leader's favourite candidate. Jalili also ran Khamenei's office from 2001 for a period of four years. Jalili, who has a PhD in political science from Tehran's Imam Sadeq University, was not a familiar face in Iranian politics until he took over the country's sensitive nuclear talks. Jalili's thesis for his doctorate degree was titled "the foreign policy of Prophet [Mohammad]". He is believed to the most anti-western candidate among the eight standing in June election.

Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf

Ghalibaf, 52, is a former air force commander for the powerful revolutionary guards and an ex-head of the Iranian police force. He lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election but succeeded him as Tehran's mayor soon after Ahmadinejad took over the presidency. Ghalibaf has since positioned himself as a moderate politician in practice, but he is strongly allied with supreme leader Khamenei. Ghalibaf is a so-called conservative "principlist". In his speeches in recent weeks, Ghalibaf has tried to win the support of both reformists and hardline conservatives, attempting to present himself as a politician who can work with both.

Ali Akbar Velayati

Velayati, 68, was foreign minister of Iran for more than 16 years and is currently a top advisor to supreme leader Khamenei. A paediatrician who also studied in Johns Hopkins University, he is seen a conservative figure who sympathises with the views expressed by Khamenei and his allies in the revolutionary guards. Velayati said recently that he would seek to solve the Syrian crisis with help from the west should he takes office. Despite this, he reflects Khamenei's views on Syria and refers to "the Arab spring" as an Islamic awakening similar to Iran's revolutionary events in 1979.

Mohammad Gharazi

Gharazi, 72, is a former oil minister running as an independent candidate seeking to improve Iran's financial crisis by bringing inflation under control. Until recently, Gharazi was an unfamiliar face for many of Iran's young generation; he has not held any key political position for many years. His candidacy was not expected to be accepted by the Guardian Council as many saw him as not competent enough to run, but he was allowed to stand to the surprise of many. He is a supporter of supreme leader Khamenei but is expressing relatively moderate views in politics.



Reports from Iran suggest that some polling stations across the country still carry the name of Mohammad Reza Aref, who withdrew from the race earlier in the week. Aref dropped out after reformists decided to back Rouhani in a move intended to avert the risk of splitting the reformist vote.

This is what Rouhani's official campaign just tweeted:

Campaign has sent letter of complaint to Guardian Council over confusion caused by presence of Dr #Aref's name on list of candidates.

— Rouhani Campaign (@HassanRouhani) June 14, 2013


Tweets from Tehran

Several western reporters are in Tehran to cover the election and been tweeting polling day updates. They include Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times and the FT's Najmeh Bozorgmehr.

Not too many saying they voted for nuclear negotiator Jalili. Many in Tehran say they fear his hard line stance.

— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) June 14, 2013

Government agency IRNA quotes Iran interior minister Najjar as saying there are 60.000 polling stations.

— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) June 14, 2013

FT's Najmeh Bozorgmehr is also in Tehran, she just tweeted:

In Islamshahr, a sat town near Tehran, there are long lines of people voting for Qalibaf, Jalili & Rezaei, my colleague says.

— Najmeh Bozorgmehr (@Najmeh_Tehran) June 14, 2013

Abas Aslani, from the semi-official news agency Fars, claims 450 foreign reporters are in Iran to cover the elections.

#Iranelection Number of reporters working for foreign media in Iran & those who traveled to cover election, altogether, is abt 450

— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) June 14, 2013


BBC complains of intimidation

The BBC has complained that Iran has launched a new intimidation campaign against its staff working for the Persian service in London.

Family members in Iran of at least 15 BBC Persian staff members have been harassed, summoned for questioning and threatened, it said.

"Iran had warned the families of 15 BBC Persian Service staff that they must stop working for the BBC or their lives in London would be endangered," BBC said, according to a news article published on its website.

"The family members themselves had been threatened that they may lose jobs and be barred from travelling abroad," it said.



There is little tradition of conducting opinion polls before elections in Iran, so those that have been conducted should be treated with caution.

But for what they are worth the polls suggest the leading contenders are the moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani and Tehran's mayor, Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf.

The Wall Street Journal says the US polling firm Ipos puts Rouhani in the lead with 31.7% followed by Ghalibaf on 24.1%.

ShabakeIran, a pro-government site, also reported a lead for Rouhani, with Ghalibaf in second.

Both Rouhani and Ghalibaf have been photographed casting their votes.

Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, centre left, casts his ballot in the presidential election
Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, centre left, casts his ballot in the presidential election. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP


Khamenei casts his vote

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,has cast his vote and delivered a defiant message to the US, state-owned Press TV reports.

It quotes him saying:

The dear Iranian people should enter the scene of elections with fervor and motivation, and [they should] know that the destiny of the country and prosperity of the nation depend on their presence and the choice they make. The views of enemies have never had any significance for the Iranian people, and the [Iranian] nation itself has always made decisions about what it needs and what is in the interest of the country, and has made and will make its choice on that basis.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot at his office during the Iranian presidential election in central Tehran.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot at his office during the Iranian presidential election in central Tehran. Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters Photograph: FARS NEWS/Reuters


Millions of Iranians are going to the polls to elect a new president to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We will be following developments through out polling day.

Here's a summary of the latest developments:

Iranians are voting for a new president following an election campaign that began flatly but took off when thousands poured on to the streets to show their support for their preferred candidate. Since reformists and opposition figures threw their weight behind the moderate contender Hassan Rouhani, public interest in the lone cleric running in the election has surged significantly.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on all Iranians to vote in Friday's elections, "even if for reasons they don't want to support the Islamic ruling establishment". "They do want to support their country though. Everyone must turn out," Khamenei said.

Severe restrictions have been imposed in Iran on foreign and domestic media to ensure that coverage of the election is tightly controlled. International media watchdogs and journalists say most visa applications from foreign news organisations to cover the contest have been rejected or simply ignored.

The killing of Neda Agha-Soltan in the aftermath of the last presidential election in 2009 still haunts voters. "These days, her image keeps coming back to my mind," a Tehrani citizen said via online chat on Facebook. "Am I betraying her if I vote? I don't know, but many of my friends are saying we won't achieve anything by simply boycotting the election."

The Guardian's interactive guide to the candidates shows how the candidates line up on the political spectrum.

Two candidates have withdrawn from the presidential race leaving just six, some more conservative than others, jostling to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photograph: Guardian Graphics Photograph: Guardian Graphics


Matthew Weaver and Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The GuardianTramp

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