Iranians took to the streets to celebrate Hassan Rohani, a moderate cleric, being declared the victor in the country's Presidential elections on Saturday. Rohani earned more than 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off, and defeating the five conservative candidates who are more in line with the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rohani will replace the polarizing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spent most of his tenure as Iranian president antagonizing Western powers. Rohani's resounding victory is being seen as a victory for Iranian citizens who want reform from the hard-line conservatives who wield most of the power in Iran.
Crowds poured into the streets as the results were announced, and Rohani won a clear cut decision, to celebrate the change in direction for the country. "Long live reform, long live Rohani," some chanted. "Ahmadi, bye bye," said others, in reference to Ahmadinejad.
While the Ayatollah still controls the most important parts of the country, both domestically and internationally, the President is still an important figure who wields influence over the country's decision making. The President has the most control over the country's economy that's been crippled by economic sanctions. Optimists hope Rohani could be the bridge that brings Iran to the nuclear negotiation table, Reuters explains:
Rohani could act as a bridge-builder between hardliners around Khamenei who reject any accommodation with the West and reformers marginalized for the last four years who argue that the Islamic Republic needs to be more pragmatic in its relations with the world and modernize at home in order to survive.
"Though an establishment figure, Rohani is a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his nuanced, conciliatory approach," they add. During his campaign, Rohani promised to participate in "constructive interaction with the world," without surrendering completely to Western control. As The New York Times points out, there's little chance Rohani will honestly suspend Iran's controversial nuclear program. He once bragged about completing huge strides in nuclear advancement while Iran told the West its program was suspended.