to widespread surprise Mahmood Ahmedinejad emerged victorious from the 2005 presidential election
many credited his common touch
He was swept to power largely thanks to his popularity amongst the working classes
He'd wooed them with promises to end decades of poverty in the country ... and to share Iran's largely untapped oil wealth
Ahmedinejad ... who worked as an engineer and a teacher before entering politics ... likes to vaunt his modest background ...
Like in this campaign video ... posing next to his own vegetable patch
But Ahmedinejad's 2005 victory also came to represent a return to conservative islamic values./.. following 8 years of reformist government.
the president"s reelection campaign was recently bolstered ... when it received public support from Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
But even if Ahmednihad's popularity lies in domestic issues, it's on the world stage that he has become notorious.
He's long denounced Western hegemony, and especially American intervention in regional conflicts... which he blames for Iran's straightened financial circumstances
In response, the Iranian president has overseen a resurgent nuclear programme ...
while he has often seemed to relish provoking the West, especially regarding Israel
The Zionist regime will be abolished and mankind will be made free"
Now though, as 46 million iranians head to the voting booths, domestic issues seem set to dominate
Inflation and unemployment have both risen sharply in the past year
if Ahmedinejad fails to win reelection ... it will largely be due to a failure of those economic policies ... ... and not necessarily his international posturing