Top NewsIran's election is a run-off between reformers and conservatism

Iran’s election is a run-off between reformers and conservatism

Iran’s presidential election is headed for a runoff between a conservative and a pro-reform candidate, after none of the contenders received a majority of the vote, the interior ministry announced on Saturday.

Official figures put the voter turnout for the elections at an unprecedented 40 percent. Of Iran’s roughly 60 million voters, 24 million cast their ballots on Friday.

Iran has voted to replace Ibrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month. According to Iranian law, any candidate for the presidency must win at least 50 percent of the vote to take office.

In a surprising development, he was the only reformist to get more votes on Friday. Cardiac surgeon Masoud Bezheshkian received nearly 10.5 million votes. He will face the ultraconservative Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator, who received less than 9.5 million votes. Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf is in third place with around 3 million votes.

The runoff will take place next Friday, July 5, when Iranians will choose between Beseshkian and Jalili. Iran’s influential Guardian Council, an unelected panel of jurists and theologians, will review the results before the top two candidates resume campaigning.

The Conservative vote appears to have split, allowing a reformer to gain more votes. Two other conservative candidates withdrew from the election days before the vote, but Jalili and Ghalibaf resisted calls to step aside.

Ghalibaf announced his support for Jalili on Saturday, calling him “the candidate of the revolutionary front”.

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“I call on all revolutionary forces and my supporters to prevent the Tide from returning to power, which is a major part of our economic and political problems today,” he said in a written statement explaining his opposition to the reformist Besheshkyan. to his supporters published by the state-run media.

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Many predicted the polls would go to polls. But some analysts said Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would prefer to avoid such an event because of concerns that a second round of voting could inject additional uncertainty into the process.

For Iran’s ruling clerics, a smooth, predictable election process with high voter turnout is critical to regime stability and legitimacy.

In the days leading up to the election, Khamenei called on Iranians to vote. “The continuation of the Islamic Republic depends on the people’s voting and participation,” Khamenei told reporters on Friday after voting as polls opened across the country.

Instead, turnout fell, fueled by a combination of apathy and opposition to Iran’s clerical rulers. Many Iranians say they don’t vote because they don’t believe elections have the power to influence policy, while others say they are disillusioned with a government that has failed to improve their daily lives.

The vote comes as Iran is mired in an economic crisis with out-of-control inflation. Regional tensions are also high as Israel wages war in Gaza against Hamas, a group backed by the Iranian regime.

In April, tensions entered uncharted territory when Iran launched its first direct attack on Israel. Elsewhere, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups, including the Houthis, carry out attacks they say are in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The election of a new Iranian president will not change policy in key areas such as foreign and nuclear affairs. The supreme leader of the country takes almost all major state decisions. But the president has the power to set certain economic policies, oversee the national budget, and sign treaties.

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