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COMING UP:Share Opener Variant 2



>> Iranians queuing in their millions to vote in an unexpectedly close presidential election. Incumbent Hassan Rouhani facing a strong challenge from hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi. He's a harsh critic of the West and the darling of conservative hawks. Reformist Rouhani holds a narrow lead. But Raisi could yet draw on economic discontent in the Islamic Republic to swerve into first place.
The 2015 nuclear deal resulted in most sanctions being lifted, but still many Iranian say they're no better off. And that's something Raisi is milking, says Reuters Chief Iran correspondent Parisa Hafezi.>> He has tried to reach out to poor Iranians by promising to create millions of jobs, while Rouhani has been trying to reach to young Iranians who want more freedom.
>> Six million jobs is what Raisi's promising and to triple monthly cash handouts to the lower class. His critics are crying populism, but those pledges play well in rural Iran. Raisi is also a protege of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian media speculating that Raisi could even succeed him after being president.
But Rouhani has gone on the attack in recent days. Iranians want more rights, he says, not to move backwards.>> Rouhani has started to cross red lines of the establishment and criticize the human rights records of his main rival, Raisi, who was one of the four Shariah judges that sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death in 1988.
>> A contest between rural conservatives with economic grievances and urbanites looking for a progressive agenda. In that, at least, Iran's electoral divide resembles recent battlegrounds in Europe and the United States.