TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Voting has begun in Iran’s first presidential election since its nuclear deal with world powers, as incumbent Hassan Rouhani faces a hard-line opponent and two other challengers.
The election Friday is largely viewed as a referendum on the 68-year-old cleric’s more moderate policies, which paved the way for the nuclear accord despite opposition from hard-liners.
Economic issues also will be on the minds of Iran’s over 56 million eligible voters as they head to more than 63,000 polling places. The average Iranian has yet to see the benefits of the deal, which saw Iran limit its contested nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.
Rouhani’s strongest challenger is hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who campaigned in part on populist cash payments to the poor.