Iran’s 14 June presidential elections brought several surprises to many outside observers; among them a high voter turnout and the victory of the centrist candidate, Hassan Rohani, with his emphasis on “moderation.” The first surprise in the election campaign was last month’s decision by the Guardian Council to disqualify two candidates, including former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The Iranian electorate’s immediate reaction appears to have been that the campaign would be a repetition of the controversial 2009 election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office, and thus that it would be pointless to vote, since the results would again be rigged. But the momentum of the campaign changed in the last couple of days before the 14 June vote with the withdrawal of the popular reformist Mohammad Reza Aref in order to clear the way for centrists, reformers and moderates to rally behind a single candidate. (CONTINUED - 880 WORDS)