Supporters of Iranian President and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani chant slogans during an electoral campaign gathering in the northwestern city of Zanjan on May 16, 2017.
Iran's presidential election on May 19 is effectively a choice between moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani and hardline jurist Ebrahim Raisi, with major implications for everything from civil rights to relations with Washington. / AFP PHOTO / Behrouz MEHRI        (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Why the world should watch Iran's election
01:38 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faces tight reelection battle against hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi

Iran's presidential campaign is being seen as a referendum on the nuclear deal

CNN  — 

He may be the ultimate insider, but Hassan Rouhani is running like the anti-establishment candidate.

At a campaign rally last week at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Rouhani took to the stage and delivered a speech more worthy of an outsider than the incumbent President of Iran.

Standing behind a lectern and surveying the sea of purple – his campaign color – before him, Rouhani promised much.

“We want freedom of the press,” he declared, “freedom of association, and freedom of thought!”

Rouhani blows a kiss to supporters at a rally in Tehran last week.

As he spoke, more than 10,000 supporters – many of them women, many of them middle class – chanted slogans demanding the release from house arrest of leading opposition figures.