Tehran: President Hassan Rouhani’s popularity may not be enough to win him another four years in office, according to the findings of a poll released on Monday.

While the majority of respondents in a survey conducted by the Toronto-based company IranPoll have a favourable view of the president, they also said that his first term and the nuclear accord he championed have not improved the economy and the living standards of average Iranians. More than 40% said he’s “somewhat likely" to lose the election and 14% said his defeat was “very likely."

The findings show the uphill task facing the moderate cleric, whose efforts to integrate Iran with the global economy could be reversed if he loses to one of his hardline opponents. The president has spent the past few weeks defending his economic record, visiting factories and oil fields to promote the government’s policies, which have helped bring inflation down to single digits after breaching 40% during the rule of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The poll was based on telephone calls with 1,005 “representative Iranians" across the country and conducted between 11 and 14 April. It had a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.

While almost 40% of those surveyed said Rouhani has been somewhat successful at resolving Iran’s economic problems, more than half said he was either “somewhat unsuccessful" or “very unsuccessful."

Next step

The findings showed that 72% of respondents said the nuclear deal with world powers hasn’t improved the living standards of average Iranians—a criticism echoed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

More than 1,600 people registered to run in the 19 May vote. They will now be screened by the Guardian Council, a clerical body that can disqualify candidates. Candidates include Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric close to Khamenei, as well as Ahmadinejad, whose eight-year reign was marred by crippling economic sanctions.

Ahmadinejad registered his candidacy despite advice from Khamenei against running. The Iran Poll data shows the former president with a favourable approval rating that is not far behind Rouhani. Raisi, who is widely tipped as Rouhani’s main hardline challenger, is still unknown to the majority of those surveyed, the poll shows. Bloomberg

Ladane Nasseri also contributed to this story.