Rohani amidst reporters and supporters after he voted on Friday.
Updated. The moderate cleric Hassan Rohani has won Saturday's presidential elections in Iran by a large margin. The Interior Ministry said Rohani took 50.7 percent of the more than 36 million votes cast, well ahead of number two, former mayor of Tehran Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, with about 16.5 percent. Jalili — who said he was "100 percent" against detente with Iran's foes — came in third with 11.3 percent, followed by conservative Mohsen Rezaei with 10.6 percent.
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the turnout was 72.7 percent, suggesting that liberals and others abandoned a planned boycott as the election was transformed into a showdown across the Islamic Republic's political divide. Iran has more than 50 million eligible voters.
In his first statement after the results were announced, Rohani said that "a new opportunity has been created ... for those who truly respect democracy, interaction and free dialogue."
Rohani received significant boosts earlier this week when reformist candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, withdrew in his favor. His campaign was also endorsed by former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
In contrast, Iran's big-hitting conservatives failed to organize themselves around a single candidate, suffering what appeared a decisive split in their support base as a result.
Voting was extended by several hours at polling stations across the country on Friday as millions of Iranians turned out to cast their ballot in the first presidential race since a disputed 2009 contest led to months of political unrest.
Rohani graduated from Tehran University with a law degree. He took master's degree in law at Glasgow's Caledonian University for a master's degree in legal affairs. He returned to Iran when the resistance to the shah grew, but had to flee to avoid arrest and then joined up with Khomeini, who was in exile in France, and the rest of his inner circle, including Rafsanjani. After the revolution, Rowhani rose quickly with various roles, including reorganizing the military, serving in the new parliament and overseeing the state broadcaster, which became a valued mouthpiece for Khomeini. He strengthened his ties to Rafsanjani during the 1980-88 war with Iraq and, later, as Rafsanjani's top national security adviser during his 1989-97 terms. Rowhani continued the role with reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who also appointed Rohani as the country's first nuclear envoy. Some weeks after Ahmadinejad came to power he quit this position.
Last week, during the campaign Rohani told a cheering crowd that he ''won't let the past eight years be continued," indicating that he want to break with Ahmadinejad's hard line postion vis à vis the West. "They brought sanctions for the country. Yet, they are proud of it. I'll pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace. We will also reconcile with the world."
The influence of a president in Iran is marginal as key sectors like defense and foreign policy are kept in hands of the supreme leader (Khamenei) and the ruling clergy. with the revolutionary guard as their protector. Rohani can play a big role, however, as far as the economy is concerrned.and he can also have an influnece on the general climate in the country by creating a freeer atmosphere.