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06/07/24 | 11:36 am

Moderate Pezeshkian wins Iran’s presidential race, interior ministry says

The low-profile moderate Masoud Pezeshkian, who has pledged to open Iran to the world and deliver freedoms its people have yearned for, has won the run-off presidential vote on, as per the interior ministry of Iran.

“The vote counting has ended and the rival candidates have been informed about the result. Pezeshkian is around three million votes ahead of his hardline rival Saeed Jalili,” said the source, who asked not to be named.

Earlier, the interior ministry said that Pezeshkian was leading the race in early results, adding that the initial reports showed turnout was around 50%, higher than the first round.

The run-off follows a June 28 ballot with historically low turnout, when over 60% of Iranian voters abstained from the snap election for a successor to Ebrahim Raisi, following his death in a helicopter crash.

The vote was a tight race between low-key lawmaker Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates, and hardline former nuclear negotiator Jalili, a staunch advocate of deepening ties with Russia and China.

Videos on social media showed supporters of Pezeshkian dancing in streets in several cities and motorists honking car horns to cheer his victory.

People in the northwestern city of Urmia, Pezeshkian’s hometown, were handing sweets out on the streets.

While the election is expected to have little impact on the Islamic Republic’s policies, the president will be closely involved in selecting the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s 85-year-old Supreme Leader who calls all the shots on top matters of state.

Voter turnout has plunged over the past four years, which critics say underlines that support for clerical rule has eroded at a time of growing public discontent over economic hardship and curbs on political and social freedoms.

Only 48% of voters participated in the 2021 election that brought Raisi to power, and turnout was 41% in a parliamentary election in March.

The election coincides with escalating Middle East tensions due to the war between Israel and Iranian allies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as increased Western pressure on Iran over its fast-advancing uranium enrichment program.

The next president is not expected to produce any major policy shift on the nuclear program or change in support for militia groups across the Middle East, but he runs the government day-to-day and can influence the tone of Iran’s foreign and domestic policy.


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