(Reuters) - Moderate cleric Hassan Rohani looked to be heading for an outright victory over his conservative rivals in Iran's presidential election, initial results showed on Saturday.
SUPREME LEADER AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI:
"A vote for any of these candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic and a vote of confidence in the system."
ALI LARIJANI, SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT:
"The people's presence in the election shows that the revolution is still alive."
TRITA PARSI, WASHINGTON-BASED NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL:
"Contrary to the clear efforts by the ruling elite to secure a conservative victory, the only centrist/reformist candidate in the race appears to have won a stunning victory. If this result stands, the Western narrative stating that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) are all-powerful needs to be revisited."
"Though hardliners remain in control of key aspects of Iran's political system, the centrists and reformists have proven that even when the cards are stacked against them, they can still prevail due to their support among the population.
FARIDEH FARHI, IRAN EXPERT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII:
On Rohani's possible stance on the nuclear issue:
"He doesn't yet know how the other side will respond, mainly the United States and whether the United States will also show flexibility. Rohani would want that kind of flexibility in order to be able to strike a deal."
YASMIN ALEM, U.S.-BASED EXPERT ON IRAN'S ELECTORAL SYSTEM:
"What really stood out for me is this dichotomy that exists in the Iranian electorate. At the height of disappointment there's still hope in the Iranian electorate. They'll still come out because they think that they can somehow make a difference. Today's vote for me was really a referendum on the status quo."
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Marcus George, Zahra and Jon Hemming; Editing by William Maclean and Janet Lawrence)