Massoud Pezeshkian Wins Iran’s Presidential Election as the Reformist Candidate

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Massoud Pezeshkian

Massoud Pezeshkian, the presidential candidate and a reformist, was declared victorious on the run-off of the presidential election. He won against ultra-conservative Saïd Jalili. This state media was announced on 6th July 2024. In his first address, Pezeshkian called for unity, saying he wanted to “extend the hand of friendship to everyone.”

This second round occurred on Friday, July 5th, a month and a half after the death of former President Ebrahim Raisi, with about 60 million eligible Iranians. Official figures announced 49.8% participation—that is, 30.5 million—the first round not having seen as high a turnout. Pezeshkian won 16,380,000 votes at 53.7%, while Jalili won 13,530,000 votes at 44.3%.

This comfortable victory for the reformists came after they had called on first-round abstentionists to mobilize against ultra-conservative Jalili. They managed to rally part of their traditional voters who had boycotted the elections in recent years. Peyzeshkian stressed inclusiveness in a victory speech and while thanking his supporters. “We will extend the hand of friendship to everyone. We are all inhabitants of this country, and we should use everyone for the progress of the nation,” he said.

A promising yet challenging future: While Pezeshkian had initially been an unlikely candidate, his calm demeanor and plain speech swept up the hopes of many Iranians for a less harsh life. At 69, Pezeshkian is a cardiac surgeon who was first nationally known to become the minister of health under reformist President Mohammad Khatami during his second term from 2001 to 2005.

Now an MP representing Tabriz, Pezeshkian was born in Mahabad to a Kurdish mother and an Azerbaijani father, speaking both communities’ languages. He certainly went hard at discriminated-against minorities in Iran and the bloody crackdown on the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement which started in the home province of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian Kurdistan.

Pezeshkian promised to remove strict laws on wearing the hijab, abolish morality police, and have frank dialogue with the West in a bid to get American and European sanctions removed, which hurt the economy hard.

internal and external challengers ahead

However, huge challenges lie ahead for Pezeshkian. At home, he has to vertically oppose power structures that the conservatives dominate, including the Parliament. Abroad, the prospect of a second term for Donald Trump lowers the chances of reconstituting the 2015 nuclear agreement just as Iran has hastened its nuclear program.

His leadership will be instrumental in riding out internal and external pressures while struggling to make good on the promise of an inclusive and progressive Iran.

Soukaina Sghir

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