Hardliners face off against reformers in presidential runoff election

Polls have closed in Iran’s presidential election, pitting hardline conservative Saeed Jalili against reformist Massoud Pezeshkian.

The runoff election was held after no candidate received a majority. First round of elections In the general election held on June 28, voter turnout was a record low of 40%.

According to Tasnim, a news agency affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Dr Pezechkian is leading in the early stages of vote counting.

Official results are expected to be announced within the next few hours.

The election was led by former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Died in helicopter crash Seven more people died in May.

Dr Pezeshkian, a former heart surgeon, has criticised Iran’s notorious morality police and created uproar by promising “unity and solidarity” and an end to Iran’s “isolation” from the world.

He has also called for “constructive negotiations” with Western countries on reviving the stalled nuclear deal. 2015 nuclear deal Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for easing Western sanctions.

His rival, Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator who has strong support from Iran’s most religious community, supports the status quo.

Jalili is known for his strong anti-Western stance and opposes reviving the nuclear deal, which he claims crosses Iran’s “red line”.

Early reports said Friday’s turnout was higher than last week’s first round, which saw the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution amid widespread discontent.

Some people who did not vote in the first round were persuaded to vote for Dr Pezeshkian this time in order to prevent Mr Jalili from becoming president.

They fear that Jalili’s victory would push Iran towards further conflict with the outside world and that he would bring only more sanctions and further isolation to Iran.

To run, both candidates had to go through a vetting process by the Guardian Council, Iran’s most powerful body of 12 clerics and jurists.

This procedure resulted in 74 candidates being excluded from the election, including several women.

The Oversight Council has previously been criticized by human rights groups for disqualifying candidates who were not sufficiently loyal to the regime.

After years of civil war Leading up to the anti-regime protests that rocked the country in 2022 and 2023, many young and middle-class Iranians have a deep distrust for the regime and have so far refused to vote.

upon Iranian Social MediaThe Persian-language hashtag “traitor minority” has gone viral, urging people not to vote for either candidate and calling those who do “traitors.”

But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied that the low turnout represented a rejection of his rule.

“There is a reason [behind the low turnout] “Politicians and sociologists will examine their actions, but if anyone thinks that those who did not vote are against the system, that is clearly wrong,” he said.

In an unusual remark, Khamenei acknowledged that some Iranians do not accept the current regime. “We listen to them, we know what they are saying. They are not hidden and invisible,” he said.

Local media in Iran are calling on citizens to vote.

“The future depends on your vote,” said reformist daily Sazandegi, while Hamihan said “now it’s your turn.”

Tehran city-run daily Hamshahri published an article titled “100 reasons to vote,” while state broadcaster-run daily Jam-e-Jam said Iran was “waiting for its people.”


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