This is a live-blog covering the first day of the 2013 Iran Presidential Election. We will provide coverage throughout the day. The newest information will be at the top, with older information further down the page progressing in reverse-chronological order. Refresh this page as the day progresses for our most recent coverage. Timestamps are in Tehran time.


20:57, June 15, 2013

(Dave Siavashi checking in)


Regardless of whether one is pro- or the Islamic Republic establishment anti-establishment, this is indeed an epic day, and on so many levels. INN will provide extensive post election coverage of the election and how we got here. I’m sure there will be a frenzy of pundits and analysts jumping into the fray to try to determine what it all means, and many will be extremely cynical. A healthy dose of cynicism was never a bad thing. But this is a victory for the Iranian people in several distinct, profound ways. The least of which is simply the fact that they exerted their will and did not sit idly. They made their voices heard and loudly.

And they picked the candidate that promised change!

Iran News Now Exclusive: Conversation with Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s New President: “Govt of hope and prudence seeks to eliminate gaps between our people, create conditions for improved atmosphere”

They picked the candidate that promised to free political prisoners and pave the way for reconciliation between all Iranians, everywhere expatriates and those who live in Iran!

They picked a candidate that promised to end the stifling security atmosphere in Iran.

Will he deliver? Will he pull an Obama-style switcheroo and simply use all of the existing organs of the state that people despise to his liking, ignoring his promises? Who knows.

Right now, Iranians deserve the space to take it all in and they also deserve respect.

Iran News Now congratulates the Iranian people and President, Dr. Hassan Rouhani!

Other presidential campaigns on Twitter, as well as former president Hashemi Rafsanjani congratulate President Rouhani:


Supreme leader trying to make people forget about 2009 and move on?


IPOS posts latest count: 11.5 million votes counted, Rouhani at almost 52%.


Now, now, let’s not get testy… Somebody just a little bit sensitive about perceptions?


EA WorldView reports:

With more than 9.2 million votes counted — almost a quarter of the total — Hassan Rouhani has more than 5 million (54%). Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf is failing to gain ground, with more than 1.58 million votes.

Mohsen Rezaei has moved into third place, with almost 1.3 million votes, passing Saeed Jalili with less than 1.23 million.

Tehran Bureau reports:

And, Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter has declared victory… for Ayatollah Khamenei:

10:00 With Iranian state media reporting that Rouhani has more than 50% of the vote, did he win the election?

Dave Siavashi checking in.

It would appear, tentatively, like the answer to this question is yes!

I say “tentatively” because in the rough and tumble political soap box that is the Islamic Republic of Iran, one can’t take anything for granted, and anything can and sometimes does happen.

When I started this live-blog I titled it Voting Day, Round One. Will it be a “Political Epic”? because (1) I thought there would probably be a run-off, believing it would be unlikely that anyone would get more than 50% of the vote, unless there was a massive turnout (making it harder to tamper with the vote and likely working in favor of Rouhani) and (2) because the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had used the term “political epic” months before the election when we declared that Iran would hold an election that would become a political epic.

It appears that indeed it has been an epic day in the politics of Iran!

Barring some crazy surprise, Hassan Rouhani is effectively the next president of Iran!

There is a mountain of information to sift through as we continue our live coverage, but it looks like there probably isn’t going to be a second round run-off.

There are many ramifications and meanings to infer from a Rouhani victory. Here is one of the main ones:

Stay tuned as we continue our coverage. ~Siavashi


Entry by Dave Siavashi:

Still no news as to the outcome of the vote. But some tantalizing clues / tidbits from the various campaigns.

Rouhahi visited the Interior Ministry, responsible for tabulating and announcing the vote:

This is at least moderately peculiar.

Aref seems to be suggesting that Rouhani has either won outright or will be one of the candidates heading to a run-off:

So something seems to be brewing… We’ll continue to wait and watch.


The regime’s Fars News has some clarification about the time that the election results will be announced.


According to the BBC Persian, the 1st round of election results will be announced at 02:00 local time – in approximately 30 minutes.

Dave Siavashi adds that in 2009, the results were announced with people in the streets and passions running high. At this hour, everyone may be asleep. This is another visible example of how the elections have been engineered to resist sparking the protests that occurred in 2009.


A new day. James Miller takes over from Dave Siavashi.

EA Worldview points out that Saeed Jalili has been tweeting out the results of some of the smaller villages – of course, only the villages where he is ahead.

Saeed Jalili  DrSaeedJalili  on Twitter

EA’s editor, Scott Lucas, tells us that Jalili has posted one result where Rouhani is ahead.


Karim Sadjadpour makes some pointed observations:

And some humor:


Jalili camp erases claim to majority of the vote in 21 provinces from his Facebook page.


As the ballot is about to come to a close, here is a video from Al Jazeera about the vote, and the possibility that it will go to a run-off run:


Scott Peterson, reporter writing for the Christian Science Monitor has published a new piece:

Iran’s supreme leader pushes Iranians to vote in defiance of US

Highlighting two excerpts from his piece:

Khamenei asks people who don’t like the system to particpate:

No tolerance for ‘sedition’

Security forces have long vowed that they will not tolerate renewed “sedition.” And for the first time, Khamenei explicitly recognized on Wednesday that not all Iranians back the Islamic system, but asked them to vote anyway.

“Khamenei is inviting the people who don’t like the system back into the game, to be a player here,” says a veteran analyst in Tehran who asked not to be named. “This recognition … indicates that people up there are worried, they are nervous, they really need their power base to grow – at least they need to show to themselves and the outside world that the majority of people are with them.”

The voices from Iranian streets were a blend of duty among conservatives, joy among some at the possibility of reform-style change based on a last-minute surge by centrist candidate Hassan Rohani, and also deep skepticism from those who feel their vote has no value.

“I really, really don’t believe in the power of my vote,” says a law student from Iran’s northern Caspian region. “If there was even a tiny chance of changing something with just one vote, I would, [but] practically it’s just humiliation, it’s really of no use.”

“I’m sure Rohani, no matter how popular he has become in the last two days, he is not going to be selected,” adds the law student. “If they think he’s a danger, and he shouldn’t be elected, they wouldn’t put him among those [final two].”

Aisan, a 28-year-old attorney in west Tehran, chose not to vote. “Even if we go and vote for Rohani, we will be giving the Supreme Leader exactly what he wants because he knows that people want to boycott the election. Even if Rohani is elected, he will not have any power to change the economy, the effect of sanctions, and the nuclear issue.”

Perceptions on Rouhani, why the system appears to be tolerating his run, and how things are different between his campaign and the fervor generated the Mousavi campaign in 2009:

The recent history of reformist candidates is marked by danger in Iran’s political space. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both former senior government officials and reformist presidential candidates in 2009, were accused of sedition for leading the protests and remain under house arrest.

The several million Iranians who protested in 2009 – when official turnout was declared to be 85 percent – believed Mousavi was the landslide winner after an unforeseen surge in the final 10 days of the Mousavi campaign. Instead, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor by a 2-to-1 margin.

“Because [Rohani] is not known as a reformer, and he has not introduced himself as a reformer, there is a relatively high degree of tolerance from the conservative establishment towards him,” says the Tehran analyst.

“[But] there is no great movement, there is no national wave as we had four years ago, and as we had when Rafsanjani said he would run” a month ago, before he was disqualified, says the analyst.

“So [Rohani’s surge] is on a much, much smaller scale,” the analyst adds. “I haven’t felt the wave, the election has not become the talk in all homes, among families and at offices. We’ve had that experience before, and when Rafsanjani came, it was a huge thing; everybody was talking, everybody was hopeful for the future.”

The disqualification by the Guardian Council of Rafsanjani, a two-time president who ran the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and oversaw the reconstruction of the country, shocked many Iranians after raising widespread expectations from a man long deemed a pillar of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Among them was Keyvan, who chose not to join voters crowding mosques in west Tehran, but to instead play badminton with his girlfriend.

“Let me be honest, when a politician like Hashemi Rafsanjani is disqualified and was not given the right to compete in the race, could you call it an election?” asked the 29-year-old.

“I’m not a big fan of Hashemi and many of the old politicians of this system, but … is he coming from Los Angeles as the opposition? Can you imagine – the commander of eight years of war, the most trusted right-hand man of [revolution founder] Imam Khomeini, and the person who’s held the highest positions in the most crucial times?” asks the man. “I’m not suggesting there will be cheating…no cheating will be necessary, the candidates are all the same … so I prefer a good holiday with my girlfriend.”


Thomas Erdbrink reports that Iran state TV saying all of the candidates have signed a statement calling for no gatherings until the official result.

On first thought, this seems to fit with the supreme leader’s and authorities’ desire to avoid anything that might balloon into a protest. And to add to that thought, let’s make sure everyone understands that Iran state TV has never been a reliable source of information on just about anything. And as a final thought, it would not be out of the realm of the possible that the remaining candidates, all of who were vetted by the Guardian council for their loyalty to the system and the supreme leader, have either acquiesced to someone’s wishes on this matter, or are also of the view that, no matter what (including if there as been any tampering of ballots), they don’t want to see a repeat of protests like in 2009 either.


Voting has been extended for the fourth time by the Interior Ministry, to 11pm now. It would be interesting to see photos from polling stations to see if there actually still is a significant number of people waiting to vote…

Mehdi Saharkhiz brings our attention to the Jalili campaign’s Facebook page, claiming that Jalili has signficant votes in 21 Iranian provinces.

Here is the link:


Fars reports that polls extended to 10:00pm now. This is the third extension. It seems the officials are going to extra lengths to avoid the perception that they closed the polls before polling stations are empty. This is probably an attempt to portray the system as having been careful to let all voices be heard, a move intended to quell any notion that the vote may be manipulated in any way (like in 2009).


The voting period has been extended twice so far. First time to 8pm Tehran time. The latest extension is to 9pm Tehran time (25 minutes from now).

The general director of Fars News, Abas Aslani, has tweeted that the election will likely result in run-off between Rouhani and Ghalibaf. (A run-off would only occur if no candidate achieved a clear majority of the vote).

He has indicated as well that state TV is prepared to hold debates between the two remaining candidates in the event of a run-off.

Oh, and apparantly Ahmadinejad has voted:


Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4 News reports from inside Iran, talks to Rouhani’s campaign manager:


Mehr News is reporting that Ahmadinejad plans on voting at 5:00pm.



Some images from Instagram on Iran Election 2013. Have not posted the originating accounts to protect the identities of the owners.

This one shows a person heading to vote at embassy in France (Eiffel Tower in the background:

User’s comment, for those that can read Farsi:

سبزترين لباس هايش را پوشيده رفته راى داده، برايش مهم نيست كه راى اش خوانده مى شود يا نه، برايش مهم نيست كه راى اش مهر تاييد به نظام است، حافظه تاريخى اش هم خوب كار مى كند ، انتخابات ٨٨ هم يادش نرفته و داغ آن انتخابات هنوز تازه است، موسوى در حصر است . اما وقتى آنها كه تاوان سنگين انتخابات ٨٨ را به دوش كشيده اند و شكسته تر و خسته تر از ديروز ميروند راى ميدهند من كه باشم كه با آنها همراهى نكنم؟ #راى من #روحانى #انتخابات #انتخابات


Two more tweets from Thomas Erdbrink, both disturbing in their own way:

This one is most disturbing. In 2009, the results of the election were announced, in favor of Ahmadinejad within a few short hours of the ballot. If the authorities don’t want people to think they may have “engineered” the 2013 ballot, announcements like this one, from the Interior Ministry, don’t help:


Via Thomas Erdbrink:

Oops! Convenient “mistake”? A way to take votes away from Rouhani? Wonder how widespread this is.


Here is the poll result Rouhani referenced, via IPOS:


Rouhani campaign posts latest IPOS poll numbers, showing Rouhani in the lead with 38% of the vote and Ghalibaf at 24%. Polling in Iran has its problems.

Here is a link to the IPOS website with interesting polling info posted to Twitter about 5 hours ago 1220 The New York Times Iran bureau correspondent, Thomas Erdbrink, is live-tweeting from TehranI. His entire set of his tweets is worth posting. Lots of interesting anecdotes and observations so far:

This survey was conducted as part of iPOS’ daily tracking polls of Iran’s presidential election on June 12-13, 2013.

Here is their latest:

Question: If you were going to vote today, which candidate you would vote for?

The above table shows results from respondents who have said they will vote on Election Day and includes the undecided voters.

Question: If you were going to vote today, which candidate you would vote for?

The above table shows results from respondents who have decided which candidate they will vote for today.

The below table shows the percentage votes disaggregated by gender:

The below table shows the percentage of votes disaggregated by age groups (below 40 years old and above 40 years old):

The below table shows the percentage of votes disaggregated based on urban/rural living settings:

Survey Methods:

iPOS results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of our daily presidential tracking poll with a random sample of 1,067 Iranian adults aged 18 and older currently residing in Iran.

Our proportional two stages sample includes respondents on landline and cellular phones for every province.

Based on our sample, we can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ± 3 percentage point.

Trained interviewers conduct the interviews during the Iran’s daytime.














1207 Al Jazeera English reports that Rouhani has voted.

Candidate Hassan Rouhani votes in Iran Election 2013 [via Guardian, source AFP]

Candidate Hassan Rouhani votes in Iran Election 2013 [via Guardian, source AFP]

After voting he made the statement:

I have come to destroy extremism and when I see that these extremists are worried by my repsense and my vote I am very happy. It means that with the help of the people we can instill the apporpriate Islamis behaviour in the country.

Not sure that the message of “instill the appropriate Islamic behavior” is what people are voting for. Something to ponder: could Rouhani be the equivalent of the Iran’s Barack Obama, promising reforms and curbing of government excesses, freeing of political prisoners and so forth, only to pull a switcheroo if he wins? Of course that’s a big if. He would actually have to win first for Iranians and the world to find out. 11:56 Negar Mortazavi reports on campaign on Facebook to promote the vote: people changing their profiles to picture with green background with words, “I vote,” written on it.



The hashtag #IranElection is trending on Twitter. This happened in 2009 and during many of the days of unrest that followed that year and afterwards.

Image showing #IranElection hashtag trending on Twitter

Image showing #IranElection hashtag trending on Twitter


Conservative candidate and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili casts his vote in Ray (as per a tweet from his campaign).



Yes… vividly. Did a quick search on YouTube. Couldn’t find the video of him making the statement, but found this music video that essentially says, you [Ahmadinejad] are dust and trash. Posting not to make a statement, but to show how Ahmadinejad’s comment touched a nerve in people, and an example of a reaction to his callous words:


Reuters posts video of the supreme leader casting his ballot.

(Siavashi aside: Yes… too many posts about this boring point, but for the record, here it is. Always found his expression to be smug when he casts a ballot, like he is in on a really good joke, but doesn’t want it to show on his face.)


Saeed Kamali Dehghan writes for the Guardian about how nearly four years after she was shot and killed during a protest in Tehran following the 2009 election, Neda Agha-Soltan’s death 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.”

To vote or not to vote for Hassan Rouhani, the sole reformist-backed candidate standing in the race, is the dilemma shared by hundreds of thousands of people who lost faith in the fairness of Iranian polls.

For families who lost loved ones in the aftermath of the 2009 election, the buildup to the vote is adding salt to the wounds. At least 100 protesters are believed to have been killed in the protests.

Unlike Neda, whose death resonated globally, prompting world leaders to comment and inspiring films and books, the identities of a large number of those who lost their lives remain unfamiliar to Iranians.


Shirin Sadeghi posts another picture of Ayatollah Khamenei casting his ballot.

Some more interesting tweets from Shirin:




Negar Mortazavi posts picture from Tehran street taken on the last day of official campaigning, Wednesday:

10:20 A quick look back at videos from the Rouhani campaign from the run-up to today’s election: Yesterday, large crowd of supporters of Rouhani marching in Sari, singing patriotic songs and clapping. Rouhani has presented himself as the alternative to the more conservative candidates:! At a rally held in the city of Mashad, also for Rouhani. People chant, “political political prisoners must be freed.” Rouhani says that the space for social and political expression should be opened. A few days prior at a rally in Tehran, people chanting “political prisoners must be freed.” Rouhani says, “why must there be political prisoners?” 10:00 Ayatollah Khamenei has already cast his ballot, approximately an hour ago:




Where to begin?

The story of Iran, leading up to today’s election, is a long one, fraught with twists and turns that have led to a nation full of contradictions.  Iran is a diverse nation, a fractal mosaic of cultures, ethnicities and faiths that, despite the contraditions, forms a unique gestalt.

Let’s start from say … June 2009.

In the lead-up to the June 12 elections in 2009, under the control and leadership of an old guard of revolutionaries, headed by a cleric whose privileged position let’s him sit above the fray of it all, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran held a presidential election.  The incumbent in that election was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.   You all know him.  He’s the guy that that everyone loves to hate because of his bombastic statements about Israel, and his denial of the holocaust (among other reasons).

Iran’s presidential election cycle is much shorter than in most countries, lasting a couple of weeks at most and following a vetting process in which an unelected body of clerics and “jurists” appointed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and Iran’s parliament, respectively, weed through presidential hopefuls, disqualifying the vast majority and allowing only those whom they deem to be most loyal to the Islamic system and supreme leader, to run.

In 2009, one of the candidates was a former prime minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi.   Mousavi ran a very successful campaign based on a promise to reform the Iranian system.  His supporters rallied under a banner of reform, using the color green as their marker.  Mousavi was able to pack stadiums  and streets full of fervent supporters.   People on the ground in Iran reported a sense of euphoria.

On election day, people flocked to the ballot boxes across Iran.  The mood was one of profound optimism and excitement.

But things started to go in a different, more foreboding direction a few short hours after the ballot.  Within hours of the ballot closing, an announcement was made by Iran’s Interior Ministry.

It was “official”.

Ahmadinejad had won.

But had he? To this day it is not 100% clear who actually won.  But what is beyond any doubt is that the election was tampered with.  There were major irregularities being reported across the country. Mousavi was announced as having lost by a land slide in his own home town.  The numbers reported were too “perfect”, too boldly in favor of the incumbent.

Supporters of Mousavi were shocked.

The initial protests were peaceful. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in silence in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere.  Many of them clad in green, and many of them holding signs and placards with a simple question displayed on them.

Where is my vote?

These peaceful protests were met with a violent response by various government and quasi-government forces, including Iran’s volunteer Basij forces, the Revolutionary Guards, and even Hezbollah mercenaries.

On June 15, 2009, millions of people marched in Tehran alone, only to be met with a brutal, violent government crackdown.

During the course of the next few weeks, and for six months, on multiple occasions and dates, there were protests and clashes between Iranians and the government’s forces.

Tens of thousands of people were beaten in the streets. Many thousands were arrested. Hundreds were killed. There were rapes and murders of protesters in the prisons and elsewhere.

The major protests culminated on December 27, 2009 during the holy day of Ashura. This was one of the most violent day of clashes between the government forces and protesters.

This is not meant to be a full history of what happened between the 2009 election and today’s, but suffice it to say that by February 2011, Iran’s supreme leader (though not admitting it outright) put Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi (another leader of the greens) and his wife under strict house arrest. They have been held to this day.

Run-up to the elections today:

Going to try to keep it short because I want to actually start reporting on what’s happening today.

Initially, two of Iran’s notorious politicans decided to run.

Hashemi Rafsanjani a.k.a “kouseh” or “shark” threw his hat (turban?) into the ring and applied to run at the very last minute. For years viewed as a pragmatic conservative, Rafsanjani threw his lot in with the reformists and greens after the 2009 election rigging. This upset Ayatollah Khamenei, and he and Ahmadinejad have worked to try to marginalize him since.

Ahmadinejad had a preferred candidate in the form of his advisor and long-time friend, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who he wanted to see take his spot. Many speculated that Ahmadinejad was trying to keep himself politically significant by pulling a Putin/Medvedev style switcheroo. Mashaei, a mysterious fellow who espoused more Iranian nationalism and harkened to the days of Cyrus the Great as the example of a great Iran, was despised by the mullacracy because of his bold disregard for their views.

The Guardian Council, a 12-member body consisting of six jurists and six theologians, has been tasked with vetting hopefuls for their qualifications and confirming the election results. After the council’s screening process, eight candidates remain which after the resignation of Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel and Mohammad Reza Aref, they reduce down to six: Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Mohammad Gharazi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaee, Hassan Rouhani, and Ali Akbar Velayati.
(source: Wikipedia

Velayati is out as well.

Many in western media labeled Jalili as the front-runner, partly because publicity he was receiving as Iran’s stalwart nuclear negotiator, and partly because of Jalili’s own crafty strategy of letting himself be referred to as the supreme leader’s man even though the supreme leader hasn’t named a preference for any particular person running (mind you, he has dropped hints). But it looks right now, a few hours before the ballot, like this strategy has backfired for him. Polls are dubious in Iran’s tightly controlled system, but the ones that have been circulating don’t put Jalili in the lead.

The dark horse for the race, and the only cleric running is Hassan Rouhani. Not known as a reformist, and even having been critical of the greens in 2009, he is a former nuclear negotiator from the time of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, and in the past three weeks he has run a campaign that has managed to fire up the passions of what many had deemed to be an uninterested populace.

In the last days of campaigning, relatively large and highly charged rallies have been held across various cities in Iran for Rouhani, and the word on the street is that he is gaining popularity fast. He received a huge surge following Aref’s stepping aside to make way for a single centrist/reformist candidate and the endorsements of Khatami and Rafsanjani.

Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly asked for a big turnout, causing a dilemma for those who wish to boycott the election in order to not let him use a large turn out to legitimize his rule. But the surprise move to the left by Rouhani, and also the desire to not let the leader marginalize people by just handing a victory to the preferred hardliner of the day, has led many to say they will indeed vote. A “political epic” is what the leader has called for.

One way or another, he is likely to get one. But what kind?

I’ll end the introduction here, as I need to dive into what’s happening and start reporting on it!

I will endeavor to intersperse the live reports with more of the background story as time permits throughout the day.

Check back regularly for updates.

Oh and make sure you follow my colleague, Josh Shahryar, as he also compiles reports on the fantastic S&F blog.

Siavashi out… for now.


Make it a Political Epic! That’s what Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has decreed for the 2013 (1392 in Iran’s calendar) Iran pesidential election. We will provide live-coverage throughout the day. Stay tuned.