Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian wins Iran presidential election run-off

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Pezeshkian said to be winner of run-off election with 16.3 million votes to Jalili’s 13.5 million, according to reports.

Iran’s Masoud Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and lawmaker who has promised to reach out to the West, has won the country’s presidential run-off election by beating rival Saeed Jalili, the Ministry of Interior said.

“By gaining [the] majority of the votes cast on Friday, Pezeshkian has become Iran’s next president,” the ministry said.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency said that a vote count offered by authorities put Pezeshkian as the winner with 16.3 million votes to Jalili’s 13.5 million after Friday’s election.

Pezeshkian’s supporters had entered the streets of Tehran and other cities before dawn on Saturday to celebrate as his lead grew over Jalili, the AP reports.

Videos on social media showed supporters of Pezeshkian dancing in streets in many cities and towns across the country and motorists honking car horns to cheer his victory.

Participation in the election was about 50 percent in a tight race between Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates who has pledged to open Iran to the world, and the former nuclear negotiator Jalili, who is a staunch advocate of deepening Iran’s ties to Russia and China.

The run-off on Friday followed a June 28 ballot with a historically low turnout, when more than 60 percent of Iranian voters abstained from the snap election for a successor to Ebrahim Raisi, following his death in a helicopter crash.

Political analysts say Pezeshkian’s triumph might see the promotion of a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over the now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal and improve prospects for social liberalisation as well as political pluralism in Iran.

However, many voters in Iran are sceptical about Pezeshkian’s ability to fulfil his campaign promises as the former health minister has publicly stated he has no intention of confronting Iran’s powerful elite of clerics and security hawks.

Both presidential candidates promised to revive the flagging economy, which has been beset by mismanagement and sanctions reimposed since 2018 after the United States under then-President Donald Trump ditched the nuclear deal.

Read More: Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian wins Iran presidential election run-off

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