Iranians have chosen a new president. He is the hard-line mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won an easy victory in Friday's presidential runoff. Final results give Ahmadinejad nearly 62 percent of the vote, way ahead of his rival, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who won 35.9 percent. Ahmadinejad's victory is considered a major blow to Iran's reformist camp, who have lost their last stronghold. Iran's new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is 48 years old and a generation younger than his defeated presidential rival Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, age 70.
This makes Ahmadinejad's victory in some respects a "changing of the guard" in Iran between two generations of Islamic revolutionaries.
In his first public reaction to his shock victory, Iran's president-elect said that the Islamic republic's "enemies" had been "checkmated."
The Tehran mayor, a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, was a relatively unknown figure in Iran until he reached the run-off last week.
But on Friday, he swept to a resounding victory against his rival, the more moderate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Ahmadinejad is said to be a strict follower of conservative Islamic principles who has promised to improve the lot of the poor. He has also said that he will distribute oil revenues. Poor provinces are reported to have voted massively for Ahmadinejad.
Dr. Sadegh Zibakalam is a professor of political science at Tehran university.
He told Radio Farda that many people voted for Ahmadinejad hoping that his presidency would bring social justice and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Zibakalam says Ahmadinejad also picked up votes from conservatives: "The conservatives as a social movement have a relatively significant social base that includes the society's more religiousgroups, the families of the martyrs, organs such as the Basij, theRevolutionary Guard, their supporters, villagers."
Zibakalam believes that other factors such as the pre-election campaign also contributed to Ahmadinejad's victory. He said: "Another part of the votes were the results of the negative campaign against Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani during the elections or before by the radical reformists who said all the country's problems were created as a result of his actions. I think the organized [campaign] of the conservatives against Mr. Rafsanjani was effective. But for sure, part of the votes was from people who believed that their bad living conditions, their poverty are due to the policies by Mr. Rafsanjani that were continued during the eight year presidency of Mr. Khatami."
Ahmadinejad will succeed reformist president Mohammad Khatami, who constitutionally could not seek a third term.
His victory gives hardliners control over every elected or un-elected state institution in Iran.
Farah Karimi is an Iranian born member of the Dutch parliament. In an interview with RFE/RL Karimi expressed concern that an Ahmadinejad's victory could lead to a deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran. She said: "I think his election is an indication that in the future, we could see some set-back in the relative social freedoms that were achieved, and that human rights will probably be under great pressure, as well as freedom of expression, because [Ahmadinejad] himself had announced in his campaign that democracy and freedom is not his main issue."