The morning after his landslide victory in Iran's runoff presidential election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran, vowed Saturday to create "a role model of a modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic society."
In a brief statement broadcast on state radio, Ahmadinejad also issued a call for national unity after what had been a bitter campaign. "Let's convert competition to friendship. We are all a nation and a big family."
The conciliatory statement followed the announcement of final results from the runoff, which handed Ahmadinejad a clear victory over Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a middle-ranking cleric and business tycoon who has been a pillar of Iran's political establishment since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Ahmadinejad won 61.7 percent of the votes and Rafsanjani took 35.9 percent. About 60 percent of eligible voters participated.
Rafsanjani also issued a statement, wishing the victor well and saying he would not challenge the results. But Rafsanjani, a millionaire former president dogged by allegations of corruption, lashed out at unnamed opponents who he said "spent millions . . . to destroy my image and my family's image." He added that they would "receive nothing in exchange for their cruelties toward me, the country and the revolution except despair in this world and the afterworld."
Many in Tehran said they believed Ahmadinejad's victory rose from his calls for a fairer distribution of wealth in a country with one of the world's largest oil and gas reserves but where more than a third of the people live in poverty.
One analyst, Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international law at Iran's Supreme National Defense University, said the efforts to revive the revolution represented a fainter, far more peaceful version of the upheaval in communist China during the 1960s, when Mao Zedong unleashed young militias to revitalize an authoritarian government during the Cultural Revolution. In recent months, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, who holds ultimate authority in the theocracy, has called for new, younger faces in the country's politics.
"I do believe this is a kind of quasi-Cultural Revolution," Bavand said. "The revolutionaries, after a while, they get fat. The younger revolutionaries get power."
Bavand said he doubted that Ahmadinejad, a civil engineer with no foreign policy experience, would emerge as a significant player in the delicate and complex negotiations over Iran's nuclear power ambitions. Iran insists that its program is intended to produce electricity, but the United States has accused it of seeking to build weapons. The government has suspended uranium enrichment as a show of goodwill but has said the suspension is temporary.
A Western diplomat stationed in Tehran said the replacement of President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government by a hard-line administration would stiffen Iran's position.
"If the regime decided to change its position while he's president, it would make it more palatable to the hard-liners," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomacy. "But it dramatically reduces the likelihood that they would settle -- on nuclear issues, on relations with the United States, or on a host of things."
Tehran remained calm Saturday. Riot police patrolled the capital on motorcycles, and traffic was lighter than normal for the start of a workweek. Basij militia groups supportive of Ahmadinejad heeded Khamenei's public warning against going into the streets. Ordinary Iranians appeared to remain focused on the domestic concerns that dominated the campaign.
"I'm depressed," said Azar Mia, a professor of French at Tehran Polytechnic University, who had supported the reform movement. "All of the reform programs of the last eight years are vanished now. We have gone back to the Middle Ages, perhaps earlier."
Farnaz Peydari, a resident who had joined a student-led boycott, said the outcome was predictable. The boycott was organized by Iranians contending that such an action would highlight the need for fundamental change in a system whose top leaders are unelected.
"Everybody's just hoping everything stays the same," Peydari said. "They knew nothing was going to get better. They just hope nothing will get worse."
But after eight years of confrontation between Khatami's reformist government and the hard-line clerics who dominate Iran's more powerful appointed offices, some Iranians said they found hope in Ahmadinejad's victory.
"Khatami was also a good president, but because he differed from the main body of the state, they didn't let him work," said Leilia Homed, stepping out of the kitchen of the diner she runs with her husband in downtown Tehran. "Maybe they'll let Ahmadinejad work because he's got the same ideas they do."
Indeed, the mayor's emphasis on populist economics dovetails with the policy of the hard-line parliament, which has devoted billions of dollars from excess oil export revenues to subsidizing consumer staples, especially gasoline.
"Let's see what they do," Fatemeh Mahit, 20, said about the hard-liners. "They have no excuses now."
Khamenei took up the call for unity, issuing a statement thanking "my dear brother" Rafsanjani and urging him to remain in government. Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, the speaker of parliament and Khamenei's son-in-law, told reporters, "We have to cooperate to abandon this, the fruitless political bickering of recent years."
Bavand, the analyst, said full cooperation was unlikely, given the wide spectrum of ideologies within the hard-line camp. "By their nature, the conservatives are inclined to accept the logic of compromise and coexistence," he said. "So you have this conflict down the road."
Hours after polls closed, even some who voted for Ahmadinejad expressed concern that the official check on power provided by Khatami's government would vanish when it disbands in August.
"I'm worried from that point of view," said Majid Manavipour, climbing aboard a motorcycle outside the university gates. "Because if there are competing forces the state will treat people better."