(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)
ANKARA, Turkey — Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who helped end the country’s diplomatic and economic isolation with a landmark nuclear deal with major powers, registered on Friday to seek a second four-year term in the May 19 election.
Despite remaining faithful to Iran’s theocratic system, Mr. Rouhani has angered hard-liners with his calls for improved relations with the West, more freedom of expression and an easing of strict Islamic rules.
“Once again, I am here for Iran, for Islam, for freedom and for more stability in this country,” Mr. Rouhani told reporters on Friday as he announced his bid.
Mr. Rouhani’s more conservative critics accuse him of having encouraged moral corruption by advocating social tolerance. Some erstwhile supporters who had hoped for radical social changes under his presidency are also critical, saying he has failed to stand up to Iran’s religious establishment.
The president’s constitutional powers are limited. Ultimate authority rests with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Political analysts said they expected Iranian voters to rally around Mr. Rouhani even though many complain that they have seen few economic benefits from the lifting of sanctions.
“Rouhani is still very popular, and he is in a very strong position,” said one analyst, Saeed Leylaz. “People will vote for him to prevent a hard-liner from winning the election.”
Born into a religious family in 1948, Mr. Rouhani, a Shiite cleric, played an active role in the opposition that overthrew the shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, in 1979. He has held several sensitive jobs in the Islamic republic of Iran, including representing Ayatollah Khamenei for 25 years at the Supreme National Security Council.
Mr. Rouhani is also a member of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, two influential advisory bodies in Iran’s multitiered power structure. The latter will choose the country’s next supreme leader.