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Hassan Rouhani won Iran's presidential re-election by a wide marginby Circa News
Global News

UPDATE MAY 20, 8:36 A.M.: 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 percent 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 percent of the vote.

Rouhani was expected to take the lead into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Iranians voted Friday in the country's first presidential election since its nuclear deal with world powers. President Hassan Rouhani is up against three opponents. Analysts expect Rouhani to win.

More than 56 million eligible voters are expected to head to more than 63,000 polling places across the country.

Iranians overseas also will vote in over 300 locations, including 55 in the U.S., where more than 1 million Iranians live.

Ebrahim Raisi, 56, Rouhani's top contender

-Law professor, former prosecutor
-Has promised to boost welfare payments to the poor

Mostafa Hashemitaba, a pro-reform figure who previously ran for president in 2001, and Mostafa Mirsalim, a former culture minister, are also in the race.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration this week took a key step toward preserving the Obama-era nuclear deal by renewing waivers used to keep the penalties from reversing. Trump has called it "the worst deal in history."

The Trump administration also imposed new economic penalties this week.

Meanwhile, voting is scheduled to run until 6 p.m., though Iran routinely extends voting for several hours in elections. Iranian authorities say they believe the vote will exceed a 70 percent turnout.

Women fear progress will rollback

Many Iranian women fear the gains they've made in recent years toward equality will be lost or rolled back if Raisi defeats Rouhani. Rouhani has garnered a ton of support from women. At one rally, the candidate told a crowd of supporters, mostly women: "We don't want gender discrimination. We don't want gender oppression."  No woman has been approved to run for president.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report