President Hassan Rouhani’s election victory heralds renewed engagement with the world
As President Donald Trump rocked from foot to foot at the edge of a sedate, highly choreographed sword ceremony in Riyadh last week, 800 miles away, thousands of young people were streaming into the streets of Tehran for a wild, spontaneous dance of celebration.
The Iranians were mostly marking reformist President Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory in his re-election bid, a sweeping endorsement of his policy of ending international isolation while rolling out greater freedoms at home. They were also marking a win for democracy in a region where the right to a meaningful vote is in all too short supply. Iran’s supreme leader and powerful unelected bodies had left little doubt that they favoured his opponent, but Rouhani won anyway.