A Hard-Liner for the People

Iran's presidential election results in a runoff between two candidates

As mayor of Tehran for the past two years, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 48, has won the hearts of his constituents by, among other populist acts, providing marriage loans to young couples and forgiving debts owed to the city government. He has that rare gift--the common touch--that eludes many ambitious politicians the world over. But he has another crucial appeal in Iranian politics: he is a hard-liner. As a 28-year-old woman in a chador declared after she voted for him for President last week, "He will defend the Islamic Republic, a state we are willing to give our blood for."

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