TEHRAN — Millions of Iranians headed to the polls today to choose a new president in balloting that has taken on a competitive edge as a single moderate contender faces off against a splintered array of hard-line hopefuls.
The election is the first since the disputed 2009 balloting that gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term amid allegations of vote-rigging, triggering massive street protests and a police crackdown. Authorities have vowed that the tumultuous scene of four years ago will not be repeated, and security is expected to be tight.
Ahmadinejad is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
Polls indicated that no candidate among the six contenders would garner a majority, forcing a June 21 runoff among the two top finishers, the official news media reported.
The slumping economy has been the major issue, with each candidate vowing to reduce inflation and unemployment. Western-led sanctions tied to Iran’s controversial nuclear program have battered the country.