Iranians bask in Rouhani victory
The morning after is quiet. Newsstands flutter with papers. One reads "hope has returned". And that sums up the mood, the feeling of Iranians after one of the country's most unexpected election results. So many are still walking around in shock: Rouhani did it.
The day before was a tense one, the night also a very long one for so many millions of Iranians. As soon as the interior ministry made the announcement, they began coming, filling squares, streets and highways all over the capital – indeed the country.
Music and horns blared well into the early hours of the morning. The sound of happiness, too. Hassan Rouhani has promised to bring change, but for at least one night, he brought people hope.
In Tehran's northwest, police tried to keep the buoyant crowds from blocking traffic, but traffic was blocking the streets too. Young Iranians screamed and cheered, chanted pro-reformist slogans, chanted for the release of political prisoners, chanted praise for the man who will become the country's seventh president.
The mood was clear: they voted for someone they believe can ease their burdens. One young Iranian could barely contain herself, as she stood out of the sunroof of a car, screaming "Victory, we were victorious!" while flashing peace signs. She had wrapped a purple scarf around her head, the official campaign colour of Rouhani. "I am so happy I don't even know what to say, we made this victory and all I hope is that everything goes well, like we wish. I want us to be happy and to live in a way that we want," she said.
Another young man and his friend said they were happy because it was their victory. "It was our votes, they counted our votes, it was our win, nobody else had a hand in it," they said, alluding to what they thought was a rigged election in 2009.
But there is also a cautiousness learnt from experience. These people have had a reformist president – Mohammed Khatami. He is still the reformist hero, who gave the people of Iran a much more relaxed era of politics, one with more civil liberties and a better economy. He also presented the world with a softer face for the Islamic Republic.
But, inevitably, big expectations lead to big disappointment. Both parliament and the Guardian Council blocked Khatami's attempts at reform. Voters are cautious that the same thing may happen – that they will end up disappointed again; that their candidate will fail them or - even worse - not keep his word.
Another voter, in his mid 50s, said simply: "Mr Rouhani should do his job in a way that in four years, at this time, we will gather here again. Don't disappoint us."
Speaking on state television after his win, Rouhani asked for the people of Iran to help him: "I'm proud that the great people of Iran, the honourable people, thought that I deserve this. They trusted me so that I can begin on the path to serve the country, to enhance people's lives and welfare, and preserve national pride and national interests. I deeply feel that I need your assistance along this path. I need you to be there. I need your cooperation."
The more than 18 million Iranians who cast ballots for him were there – they brought Rouhani to victory. They just hope he's going to continue to be there for them too; not just in the feverish aftermath of an election – but through the next four years, whatever these four years bring.