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Iranians celebrate presidential election

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — There are wild celebrations on the streets of Tehran after reformist-backed Hasan Rowhani capped a stunning surge to claim Iran's presidency on Saturday.

His election throws open the political order after relentless crackdowns by hard-liners to consolidate and safeguard their grip on power.

Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters have been chanting "Long live Rowhani."

Security officials have made no attempt to rein in crowds -- joyous and even a bit bewildered by the scope of his victory with more than three times the votes of his nearest rival.

In his first statement after the results were announced, Rowhani said that "a new opportunity has been created ... for those who truly respect democracy, interaction and free dialogue."

But in Iran, even landslides at the ballot box do not equate to policymaking influence.

All key decisions remain solidly in the hands of the ruling clerics and their powerful protectors, the Revolutionary Guard. But Rowhani's victory does reopen space for moderate and liberal voices.

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