A narrow victory for Rouhani risks helping conservatives block the kind of economic and social reforms he has championed.
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The villas along the Caspian Sea at Mahmoudabad in northern Iran fill at weekends as well-off families drive up from Tehran. The lawns and flower beds that await them are tended by men like Morteza, who works 13-hour days starting at dawn for $510 a month.A gardener to the privileged, he says his income barely covers living expenses for his family of four, and explains why he supported Hassan Rouhani for the presidency in 2013 . Nearly three-quarters said Rouhani had been "somewhat or very unsuccessful" in cutting unemployment. While 61 percent held a "very favorable" view of the president after the deal was signed, it's now 38 percent. Still, a strong majority remains broadly supportive, with less than 20 percent having an "unfavorable" opinion of Rouhani. The findings show Rouhani may be vulnerable in the election should his conservative opponents field a popular candidate. Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, says Rouhani remains well-placed to win given the probable unwillingness among top leaders to turn at a time of transition to someone untested.
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