Iran’s Presidential Runoff Set Between Moderate and Hard-Liner

By The Media LineThe Media Line Staff

Iran is set for a runoff presidential election on July 5 after no candidate secured the necessary majority in the initial vote. The contest is between Masoud Pezeshkian, a relatively moderate lawmaker, and hard-line former Revolutionary Guard member Saeed Jalili. Pezeshkian led with over 10 million votes, while Jalili garnered 9.4 million.

The election follows the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. Despite the runoff, ultimate power in Iran remains with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, so major policy changes on Iran’s nuclear program or regional militias are not expected. However, the president manages the daily operations of the government and can influence the tone of policy.

Turnout for the election was historically low, around 40%, reflecting public discontent over economic issues and political restrictions. This comes at a time of heightened regional tension, including conflicts involving Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and increasing Western pressure on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Pezeshkian, backed by the sidelined reformist faction, emphasizes respect for the hijab law but condemns intrusive enforcement. His stance contrasts with Jalili’s hard-line views, particularly on Iran’s nuclear negotiations. Jalili, known for his uncompromising stance, could lead to a more antagonistic foreign policy if elected.

Both candidates now aim to mobilize voters for the runoff. The low turnout has been seen as a protest against the current political system, with many voters voiding their ballots. Analysts suggest that Pezeshkian’s success could improve relations with the West and promote economic and social reforms, while Jalili’s victory might result in stricter policies.

The outcome of this election is crucial, as the next president may play a significant role in the succession of the 85-year-old Khamenei. With regional conflicts ongoing and internal dissatisfaction high, the runoff election will be pivotal for Iran’s future direction.

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