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Iran’s presidential election heads to a runoff

07:20 AM Jun 30, 2024 IST | GK NEWS SERVICE
iran’s presidential election heads to a runoff
Voting begins for snap Presidential election in Iran to elect Raisi's successor --- Photo: @H_Sharafeddine/X

New Delhi, June 29: Results from Iran’s 14th presidential election indicate a runoff between reformist candidate Massoud Pezeshkian and conservative Saeed Jalili, scheduled for July 5. This announcement was made by Mohsen Eslami, spokesperson for Iran’s election headquarters.


Voters cast their ballots on Friday to elect a successor to President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on May 19. The votes from 58,640 polling stations across the country, and 344 abroad, have been counted, Eslami announced on Saturday. Over 61 million Iranians were eligible to vote in this election as reported by IRNA.


The results reveal a tight race between Pezeshkian and Jalili. After counting 24,535,185 votes, Pezeshkian led with 10,415,991 votes, while Jalili garnered 9,473,298. None of the four candidates secured more than 50% of the vote, prompting the second round. This election witnessed the lowest voter turnout since the Islamic Republic was established in 1979.


Another candidate, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, received 3,383,340 votes, while Mostafa Pourmohammadi had 206,397. Pezeshkian led with 42.5% of the votes, followed by Jalili with 38.6%, according to the state news agency IRNA.


Out of 60 million eligible voters, 24 million cast their ballots, resulting in a 40% turnout, Eslami reported. Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi and Alireza Zakani had withdrawn their candidacies before the election.


Under Iranian electoral law, a runoff between the top two candidates is held on the first Friday after the result announcement if neither wins 50%+1 of the votes.


On May 19, 2024, a helicopter carrying late President Ebrahim Raisi, late Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and several other officials crashed while flying from Khudafarin to Tabriz, killing the president and his delegation.


asoud Pezeshkian, a former health minister under reformist president Mohammad Khatami, is a trained heart surgeon and lawmaker. He gained prominence for his opposition to the crackdown on the 2009 pro-democracy protests and violence by the morality police in 2022. After losing his wife and one of his children in a 1994 car crash, he dedicated much of his time to politics. Pezeshkian ran for president in 2013 and 2021 but was unsuccessful. The 69-year-old hails from an ethnically mixed family, with an Azeri father and a Kurdish mother.


Saeed Jalili is an ultraconservative known for his tough stance against the West. He is a longtime top security adviser to Khamenei and a former IRGC soldier from the Iran-Iraq war. As the lead negotiator for the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, he was known for his firm approach.

Iranian media describe him as a “firm and meticulous negotiator” who believes Iran’s economic development should not depend on foreign influence. Jalili ran for president in 2013 and again in 2021, withdrawing in favour of Raisi, who eventually won.

The elections come at a delicate time for Iran, which is embroiled in escalating tensions with Israel and Western allies, triggered by the war in Gaza and the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program. The vote also took place just two months after Iran and Israel exchanged fire for the first time as the Gaza conflict widened.

The Supreme Leader Khamenei of Iran is the final decision-maker in Iran, but the elected president will represent the Islamic Republic on the global stage. The US sanctions against Iran have left the economy quite weak, and high inflation.