Iran’s Presidential Runoff Election is Won by Reformist Pezeshkian Over Hard-Liner Jalili

Iran’s Presidential Runoff Election is Won by Reformist Pezeshkian Over Hard-Liner Jalili

After years of protests and sanctions putting pressure on the Islamic Republic, reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian defeated hard-liner Saeed Jalili in Saturday’s runoff presidential election. Pezeshkian promised to lessen enforcement of the nation’s mandatory headscarf legislation and reach out to the West.

Throughout his campaign, Pezeshkian made no grand promises to alter Iran’s Shiite theocracy, and the country has long recognized Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the ultimate judge on all questions of state. However, even Pezeshkian’s modest goals will face opposition from the Iranian government, which is still dominated by hardliners, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Western concerns about Tehran’s enrichment of uranium to levels close to those needed for weapons.

According to an official count of votes, Pezeshkian received 16.3 million votes against Jalili’s 13.5 million, making him the victor of Friday’s election.
As Pezeshkian’s lead over hard-line former nuclear negotiator Jalili increased, supporters of the heart surgeon and lifelong politician poured into the streets of Tehran and other cities before daybreak to celebrate.

Despite Pezeshkian’s victory, Iran remains in a precarious position given the high level of tension in the Middle East over the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip, Iran’s progressing nuclear program, and the impending US election, which could jeopardize any hope of a diplomatic agreement between Washington and Tehran.

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