Iran's top leader urges high turnout in presidential vote

The people of Iran go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a controlled, but still heated presidential election.

Even students and teenagers who are too young to cast their votes are eagerly talking of the Iranian elections and are very excited about the event. Rouhani and Raisi both sit in that assembly. "What I promised in 2013, either I did or wasn't allowed to do". We have chosen our path, the path to freedom. Railing against the worldwide financial industry, Mr. Raisi called on Iranians to rely on themselves - to reactivate the industrial engine of growth in order to capitalize on Iran's educated work force.

Incomes have stagnated or fallen, youth unemployment is 26 per cent, and many people have lost faith in Rouhani.

Rouhani's singular achievement since election in 2013 is the deal with the west constraining Iran's nuclear programme, accomplished in the face of considerable opposition from conservatives and the subject of sceptical scorn from U.S. president Donald Trump.

However, he criticized President Rouhani for what he called "failure in making the West to remove all anti-Iran sanctions after the implementation of the deal".

"One wrong decision by the president can mean war and a correct decision can mean peace", he said at his own Mashhad rally.

Hardliners dominating the judiciary and security services have stood in the way, his defenders say. This time, she says, Rouhani has one serious opponent: the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi. That leaves banks and many big corporations wary of doing business with Iran.

But apathetic Iranians, many disillusioned by Rouhani's inability to usher in social change, make up a third category of voter.

The prospect of a victory for the hard-liners raises fear that the confrontation between Iran and the US will worsen and further undermine stability in the Middle East. "Rouhani has failed to bring changes".

The Ayatollah - who wields the real power in Iran - is 78 years old, and whoever is prime minister for the next four years could sway the selection of, or become, his successor.

More than 19,000 industrial projects launched by previous governments have been completed with more than 710 trillion rials (USD19 billion) of investment under President Hassan Rouhani's administration, which created 302,000 direct jobs, according to the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade.

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Six presidential candidates were approved by Iran's Guardian Council.

And during a presidential debate last week, he accused the paramilitaries of seeking to sabotage the nuclear deal, pointing to the Revolutionary Guard's launch of a ballistic missile bearing the words "Israel must be wiped out" in Hebrew in March 2016.

A hardline win, analysts say, will entail support from voters beyond the clerical elite's traditional constituency among religiously devout, mainly less well-off Iranians.

"Since his (Raisi's) power base comes from the hardliners, it will be projected in his foreign policies", he said.

Rohani is pro-rapprochement with the west as it is proven with the Nuclear Deal but there has been only little economic gain since the deal was officially signed on July 14, 2015.

Tehran residents said police deployments appeared to have been beefed up in some areas of the capital, a normal practice ahead of national polls in Iran, to prevent unrest.

"A sanctions snap-back could not only deter foreign investment in the Iranian energy sector but could also curtail the country's ability to sell its barrels overseas", Croft said.

Iran's non-oil economy, the main engine for job creation, contracted in 2015 and barely grew a year ago. What I have done in the past four years is quite clear.

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Rouhani then turned his attention to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the country's state TV.

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