Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian Triumphs as Iran’s New President

Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist and seasoned heart surgeon, has been elected as Iran's new president, triumphing over his conservative rival Saeed Jalili in a closely contested run-off.

Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist and seasoned heart surgeon, has been elected as Iran’s new president, triumphing over his conservative rival Saeed Jalili in a closely contested run-off.

Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist and seasoned heart surgeon, has been elected as Iran's new president, triumphing over his conservative rival Saeed Jalili in a closely contested run-off.

Pezeshkian secured 53.3% of the votes, while Jalili garnered 44.3%. This election followed a first round on June 28, where no candidate achieved a majority, amid a record low turnout of 40%.

The election was called after the tragic death of former President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in May. Pezeshkian’s victory sparked celebrations across Tehran and other cities, with young supporters waving his campaign’s green flag and rejoicing in the streets.

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Pezeshkian, aged 71 and a parliamentary veteran, has been vocal against Iran’s morality police and has pledged to end the country’s global isolation. He advocates for “unity and cohesion” and favors “constructive negotiations” with Western nations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, aimed at easing sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear activities.

In contrast, Saeed Jalili, a staunch conservative and former nuclear negotiator, opposed renewing the nuclear agreement and maintained a hardline stance against the West. Jalili’s campaign resonated with Iran’s deeply religious communities, but many voters rallied behind Pezeshkian to avert further international confrontation and sanctions.

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Despite an increased turnout of 50% in the run-off, voter participation remained low, reflecting widespread discontent and skepticism about the election’s impact under the strict control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guardian Council’s stringent vetting, which disqualified 74 candidates including several women, added to the frustration.

The disillusionment with Iran’s political system was evident, as many young and middle-class citizens boycotted the election, feeling that genuine change was unattainable. The viral hashtag “traitorous minority” urged people to abstain from voting, criticizing those who did as betrayers.

However, Ayatollah Khamenei dismissed claims that the low turnout signaled a rejection of his rule, acknowledging that some Iranians are discontent but asserting that it does not imply opposition to the establishment.

Pezeshkian’s election marks a significant moment in Iran’s political landscape, as he steps into a role fraught with challenges and high expectations for reform and renewed international relations.

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Source: BBC

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