Iran: Pezeshkian’s Reformists Triumph

Reformist-backed Masoud Pezeshkian has prevailed in the second round of the presidential election, becoming the ninth president of the Iranian regime. The election headquarters announced the final results on July 16, declaring Pezeshkian the winner with more than 16 million votes. Of the 30 million voters, or about 49 percent of those eligible to vote, 16,384,403 chose Pezeshkian, while 13,538,179 voted for Saeed Jalili.

Voting for the presidential elections in Iran ended on July 5, immediately followed by the counting of the ballots. The event was closely followed, given the Iranian socio-political situation, characterized by heavy international economic sanctions and widespread internal discontent. The outcome of the elections will influence not only Iran’s internal politics, but also international relations, especially in relation to the nuclear agreement and regional dynamics. There is nothing to expect regarding the relationship with Israel: “we will have good relations with everyone except Israel” the newly elected president immediately said, also because he is a man of the Revolutionary Guards to whom he gave ample guarantees of continuity with the past in order to be voted. So, deluding ourselves that Masoud Pezeshkian could be “the change” is the classic mistake that Westerners make in these cases. Perhaps it is possible that with him women could see a relaxation of the controls of the religious police, but it remains to be seen whether the promises will be followed by facts.

The first round had a low turnout, with only 40 percent of eligible voters voting. The second round had a slightly better turnout, but still only 49 percent. Students in Qom were given a week off to vote, and some company employees were pressured to vote: Ali Khamenei had urged every eligible Iranian to vote, and the disastrous turnout represents a crisis of legitimacy for him. These numbers reflect a significant boycott by citizens, including many political prisoners (who are eligible to vote) and activists. Masoud Pezeshkian won a significant victory with 16,384,403 votes to Saeed’s 13,538,179.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has congratulated Iranian reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian on his victory in the presidential runoff election: “I hope that his presidential term will contribute to strengthening constructive bilateral cooperation between our friendly peoples,” Putin said in a message to Pezeshkian. The two countries, which are under tough Western sanctions, can “coordinate efforts to resolve international issues in a constructive manner,” Putin added.