AFTER four years of Iran’s reformists being trampled on by their conservative rivals, few imagined that their candidate for the presidential election on June 14th would achieve a landslide victory. Yet Iran’s new president-elect, Hassan Rohani, a centrist, a former chief nuclear negotiator and long-standing establishment figure, was elected as the seventh president of the Islamic Republic with a whisker shy of 51% of the vote, more than twice that of the runner-up. Large street parties celebrating Mr Rohani’s success erupted across Iran, even in the conservative stronghold of Qom.

Mr Rohani’s inclusion as a candidate by the Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and lawyers, half of them appointed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was overshadowed by the disqualification of a former president and Mr Rohani’s political ally, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In the weeks that followed, Mr Rohani campaigned on the rhetoric of moderation, technocracy and rapprochement with the West, while Iran’s reformist bloc stayed quiet. It was only two days before the vote that the reformists officially threw in their lot behind the multilingual cleric and organised the withdrawal from the race of Mohammad Reza Aref, a lesser-known candidate, to avoid splitting the reformist vote.

The eleventh-hour coalition between Iran’s reformists and Mr Rohani moved Iran’s long-marginalised reformist opposition towards the political centre ground. A day later, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on all Iranians, even those who “do not support the Islamic system”, to cast their ballot. This rhetorical peace-offering to anti-establishment voters, including large numbers of reformists, brought Iran’s conservatives closer towards its “seditious” enemies. Mr Rohani is expected to form a government including moderates from both camps.