With more than 10 million votes counted, Mr. Rouhani, a moderate, and the default flag bearer for the reformists, appears to be wining with more than 50% of the vote. UPDATE: Mr. Rouhani won with 52.5% of the votes with over 18 million votes. The turnout was ~72% (over 36 million out of ~50 million eligible voters).
The de facto Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, had previously scolded Rafsanjani, and others, for calling for a "free election", saying that it is a "code word" in support of the "enemies" of Iran by implying that the last election wasn't "free". Here is Kayhan's headline from a couple of months ago:
On this election day the supreme leader had a different message, he called on "officials" to "pay extra attention to accurate counting of votes". As a result, instead of a few hours, the vote count is now taking a whole day to complete and announce.
The Iranian regime seems to alter its strategy with regard to "engineering the election". With the memory of the last election unrest on his mind, the supreme leader has decided that the guardian council disqualification of serious opposition contenders is engineering enough, and that actual vote rigging would be a bridge too far this time around.
With the total number of votes remaining a state secret to this moment, it's impossible to confirm the Kayhan claim that the turn out was 75% of the 50 plus millions eligible voters.
It is possible that the regime, by not announcing the total number of votes in advance of the final vote tally, is still leaving open the option of adding votes and decreasing the percentage of Rouhani win to below 50%. This would force a runoff election. While a second round between Rouhani and Ghalibaf (an IRGC choice) may still go Rouhani's way, it would extend the propaganda value for the regime for another week and give the impression of even a greater "democracy". Also, many more voters are likely to participate in a runoff given the apparent lack of irregularities in vote counting in the first round.
The Real Winners Of The 2013 Election:
The supreme leader may have decided to give the Iranians a breather, and the regime a new lease on life, by allowing the election of an opposition candidate. This is analogous to his prior decisions to allow ex-president Khatami to run and win two terms.
Despite the apparent partial boycott by reformists and the blank ballets coming in 6th ahead of the 6th candidate, the supreme leader still got his wish of giving the world and the nation the "illusion" of "democracy". I must say that, the fact that even the city of Qom voted for Rouhani should give the supreme leader pause.
Having been disqualified despite being a founding father of the regime, Rafsanjani added the title of "aggrieved" to his many other accomplishments. He also went a long way toward rehabilitating the image of his family, in case of change of political fortunes in the future. Before this election, Rafsanjani would have been at risk of future political and judicial reprisals in case of a full blown revolution. The recent events placed him, and his family, squarely in the "opposition" camp, and made him the man of the people again.
Mr. Rafsanjani also showed off his abilities as a king maker again. He endorsed Rouhani a day before the election drawing both reformists votes and moderate conservative votes. He now has his man elected as president (if the numbers hold), just as he had his man Khamenei elected supreme leader after Khomeini's death. His enemies within the regime will now think twice before they try to marginalized him again.
The Iranian People Win, Maybe?!
Obviously many thought that "something" is better than "nothing" and went to the voting tables (Iran uses communal tables instead of private voting booths), but ultimately their future depends on how stubborn their supreme leader really is. If he follows the example of the regime founder, Khomeini, then Iran and its people have a long way to go before they see the light at the end of the tunnel. They may have to wait eight more years before the leader drinks his "poison" and give in to western demands and allow the lifting of sanctions.
If the next few months lead to nothing, then Iranians will find themselves exactly where they started. They may eventually realize that democracy is not just about elections.
In the meantime, the ironies of today may provide us with a glimpse at the real significance of this win. As the moderate Rouhani was being allowed to become president, he proudly posted that his site is no longer blocked (by the cyber security police).