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Astonishing turnout surprises all
Tehran Times Political Desk

TEHRAN - Iranians turned out in very large numbers to vote in the hotly-contested presidential election as Election Commission officials and independent observers estimated that the turnout would exceed 70 percent.

Mehr News Agency correspondents from around the country have reported a huge turnout everywhere and some have called the people’s massive participation in the election “astonishing”. Long queues formed even before the polling stations opened.

Some polling stations ran out of ballots, but the people were so enthusiastic to vote that they waited for electoral officials to bring more ballots.

It seems the main contest is between incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Former Majlis speaker Mahdi Karroubi and former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Mohsen Rezaii appear to be lagging behind.

If none of the four candidates receives an absolute majority in the first round of voting, a run-off will be held on June 19 between the two candidates with the most votes.

The polling stations opened officially at 8:00 a.m. local time. Voting was scheduled to end at 6:00 p.m. but was extended for several hours to accommodate the crush of voters.

About 46.2 million Iranians -- out of a total population of 70.4 million -- are eligible to vote.

National test

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei cast his ballot minutes after the poling stations opened for the presidential election on Friday morning.

The Leader described the election as a “national test” and expressed satisfaction at the high voter turnout.

“Thank God, the people’s enthusiasm to take part in the election is very great,” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.

The Leader also expressed hope that the most qualified candidate would be elected to become head state for the next four years.

This was one of Iran’s most important elections

Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called said this is one of the most important presidential elections in the history of the Islamic Revolution.

“In my opinion, this election is one of the country’s most fateful elections,” Rafsanjani told reporters after casting his ballots.

Today, more than at any other time, the people are feeling a great sense of duty since the Western powers have referred Iran’s nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council and foreign forces have been deployed in neighboring countries, the EC chairman said.

This election can elevate the status of Iran in the region and the world, he added.

The numerous campaign rallies in the days leading up to the election were signs of the people’s political awareness, Rafsanjani observed.

No electoral irregularities reported

On election day, Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli said the election was proceeding smoothly across the country and no election law violations had been reported.

“The enemies of our nation sought to reduce the participation of the people by spreading rumors that the election would not be fair. However, through their enthusiastic participation in the election, the people showed that they have complete trust in the election (process),” he said in a televised interview on Friday.

Mahsouli added, “The election will strengthen national cohesion, eradicate the shadows of threats, and increase the nation’s hope for the future.”

Election is the launch pad toward glory

President Ahmadinejad said the election is the “launch pad toward the summits of glory.” He also extended his gratitude to the nation for their “sacrifice, forbearance, and tolerance.”

Thanks to the nation

Mir-Hossein Mousavi thanked the people for their massive participation in the election.

“The unity which has been created among the people provides a golden opportunity for us, and we should not regard it as a threat,” Mousavi said in front of the south Tehran polling station where he cast his ballot.

Officials should perform their duties efficiently

Mahdi Karroubi told reporters that officials should perform their duties efficiently and respect the people’s vote.

He said, “Whether I am elected or not, I am grateful (to the nation).”

Spirit of cooperation should be promoted after election

Mohsen Rezaii stated that a spirit of “brotherhood and cooperation” should be promoted after the election.

“Before the election, the competition should be serious. However, after the election, we should promote brotherhood and cooperation.”

Massive turnout shows loyalty to Islamic Revolution

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said on Friday that the massive turnout shows the people’s loyalty to the Islamic Revolution.

“The people’s participation is due to their awareness and shows the people’s strong loyalty to the revolution,” ISNA quoted him as saying.

“The solution of many of the country’s problems depends on the people’s vote and their participation,” he added.

People’s participation foils plots

Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi has said the people’s participation in the election will foil the enemies’ plots.

Ayatollah Shahroudi added, “Their participation shows the unity between the people and the system, and the people’s belief in the revolution after 30 years.”

Culture of democracy taking root in Iran

Democracy really took hold in the country with this year’s election, said one voter after casting his ballot.

“Despite all the country’s problems over the years, we see that the culture of democracy is beginning to take root in Iran, and the people are becoming confident that they can control their destiny by casting ballots. And the people are happy. These are good signs that augur well for the future,” said the voter, who requested anonymity.


 

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