New President Massoud Pezechkian gives hope to young people and women

Massoud Pezeshkian, a relatively moderate member of Iran’s parliament, has been elected Iran’s next president, defeating his hardline conservative rival by a landslide margin in Friday’s presidential runoff election.

The 69-year-old replaces Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

Dr Pezeshkian’s supporters, many of them young, celebrated in the capital Tehran and other cities even before the final results were announced, singing, dancing and waving green flags, the symbol of his campaign.

At a time when many looked with despair, he gave hope to some of the country’s younger generations, some of whom were planning to leave in search of a better life.

He has represented the city of Tabriz in the Iranian parliament since 2008 and previously served as the country’s health minister.

In the 1990s, he lost his wife and one of his children in a car accident, never remarried, and raised his three remaining children (two sons and one daughter) on his own.

Raisi’s victory upsets plans by Islamist hardliners who had wanted to replace him with another conservative and seize all of Iran’s power together with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Speaking at a polling station in Tehran, 48-year-old Fatemeh told AFP she voted because the moderate’s “priorities include the rights of women and young people”.

“I know Pezeshkian will be a lame duck president, but he’s still better than a hardliner,” Afarin, 37, who runs a hair salon in Isfahan, told Reuters.

Many voters boycotted the first round of voting last week, angered by domestic repression and international conflict that has led to tougher sanctions on Iran and widespread poverty.

They were also frustrated by the lack of options in the election: of the six candidates allowed to run, five were hardline Islamists.

And with Ayatollah Khamenei having the final say on government policy, there was a sense of despair that any real change was likely to be unlikely.

One of those who refused to vote was Azad, a 35-year-old human resources manager and activist from Tehran He has been imprisoned twice for criticizing the Iranian government.

Azad, whose name has been changed for his safety, says he remains traumatised by being held in solitary confinement and enduring exhausting interrogations.

She told the BBC that regardless of Dr Pezeshkian’s victory, the supreme leader would remain the “puppet master” in Iran.

“Reformists have not made any effort to reform the political structure for 45 years,” she said, referring to the period since the Islamic Revolution.

But in Friday’s runoff election, some people changed their minds and went to the polls, many of them appearing to have strategically voted for Dr Pezeshkian in an attempt to stop Mr Djalili from winning.

He would have reaffirmed many of the policies that have sparked frustration at home and abroad, including Iran’s controversial nuclear deal. Morality police patrol.

During the campaign, Jalili took an anti-Western stance and criticized the 2015 deal that gave Iran curtailment of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Voters worried that if he won, his presidency could antagonize the United States and its regional allies and worsen Iran’s economic situation.

Pezeshkian responded by calling for a “constructive relationship” with the West and reviving the nuclear deal to “bring Iran out of isolation.” He said Iran’s economy could not function under the crippling sanctions currently in place.

A victory for Jalili would signal a shift towards potentially tougher domestic policies, such as making the headscarf mandatory for women.

Dr Pezeshkian is opposed to the use of force to enforce compulsory hijab, which has become a major issue in recent years.

He previously Death in police custody The death of Mahasa Amini, a young woman arrested for allegedly breaking the law, sparked nationwide protests on a scale never before seen in the country.

The president-elect is expected to take power within days to fill the government vacuum created by Raisi’s sudden death.

Dr. Pezeshkian has pushed for the revival of the nuclear deal and sanctions relief, and has pledged for Iran to join international banking agreements, which conservatives have been reluctant to do, and which have meant that Iran no longer has normal banking relationships with other countries.

He also said he would end Iran’s widespread internet censorship.

But it’s unclear how much political freedom he will be given to effect meaningful change.

Sanam Baqir, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House in London, said Trump “needs to work with the entire Iranian regime, which is dominated by conservatives,” to win support for his moderate policies.

“Apart from the economic area, which is under the direct control of the president, he will not have much room for independent action,” Dr Vakil told the BBC, adding that even there “meaningful progress can only be achieved through negotiations with the US to obtain sanctions relief”.


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