Tehran mayor quits race for Iran presidency

Although Facebook and Twitter are officially blocked in Iran, social media platforms in Iran are playing a significant role ahead of the presidential elections this week where the two leading candidates are reformist incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who oversaw the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. A few hours later, Jahangiri announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in favor of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani.

On Monday, Tehran's hardline mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf withdrew his candidacy and urged his supporters to back conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions. All candidates must be vetted by a hardline body.

At the same time, they've focused on economic populism, denouncing Rouhani, a pragmatic Conservative, for failing to alleviate poverty and to provide the economic benefits he promised would flow from the signing of a nuclear deal with global powers.

A high turnout could also boost the chances of Rouhani, who was swept to power in 2013 on promises to reduce Iran's worldwide isolation and grant more freedoms at home.

Many now believe that the vice president may contest the presidency for real at the next election in 2021. The polls show he is seen as far more capable than his challengers both to improve Iran's foreign relations (55 percent for Rouhani, 22 percent Ghalibaf, and 6 percent Raisi) and to remove worldwide sanctions (48 percent Rouhani, 21 percent Ghalibaf, 7 percent Raisi).

Others posts by the conservative camp allegedly show Rouhani's auto being attacked by protesters, scenes that went viral around the country.

Also on Tuesday, Rouhani said in a speech delivered from the city of Zanjan, west Tehran, that all Iranians should participate in the elections to break what he said was "the monopolization of power by one particulate group".

According to local Iranian news outlet Tasnim News Agency, Raisi reportedly expressed his gratitude to Ghalibaf saying 'I thank him. Further splitting the hard-liners, Rouhani's clerical credentials could help win over some conservative-leaning voters. "In Tehran, his votes will go mainly to Rouhani but outside Tehran his supporters will vote for Raisi". "Rouhani's camp has lost an easy target to beat up on".

A recent poll had put support for the two hardliners at 52% and for Mr Rouhani at about 42%.

"At the current juncture, I consider supporting Rouhani and a firm vote for him as support for the powerful Iranian nation, which is entitled to pin its hope on [having] a better future", Jahangiri said.