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Reformer Pezeshkian wins presidential election in Iran

The reformer Massoud Pezeshkian, who advocates an opening towards the West, won. Saturday's presidential election in Iran, facing Iran the ultraconservative Saïd Jalili.

Hastily organized after the death in May of ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raïssi in a helicopter accident, the presidential election was held in a context of popular discontent with the state of the country's economy. oil country hit by international sanctions.

At the end of the second round of voting on Friday, Mr. Pezeshkian received 53.6% of the votes against 44.3% to his opponent, according to the final results communicated by the electoral authorities. After a first round on June 28 marked by a strong abstention, participation stood at 49.8%.

“The path ahead of us is difficult. It will only be easy with your collaboration, empathy and trust. I extend my hand to you,” Mr. Pezeshkian, 69, said on X after his victory.

No one would have bet on the MP from Tabriz, the large city in northwestern Iran, when his candidacy was accepted by the Guardian Council along with five other candidates, all conservatives .

M. Pezeshkian is not, in fact, one of the leading figures of the reformist and moderate camps, but he has received the support of former presidents, the reformist Mohammad Khatami and the moderate Hassan Rouhani.

– “The limits of the president” –

Reformer Pezeshkian wins presidential election in Iran

Presidential candidate and reformer Massoud Pezeshkian on IRIBNEWS (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting News) channel in Tehran on June 25, 2024 © IRIB – MORTEZA FAKHRINEJAD

It is a “national referendum” during which “the people clearly voted” for a “constructive understanding with the world”, launched Mr. Rouhani.

Images broadcast by local media showed supporters of the reformer expressing their joy in the streets in Tehran and Tabriz, even before the official announcement of the results.

Iranians, interviewed by AFP after Mr. Pezeshkian's election, welcomed his victory, others said they did not believe in change.

“We are very happy that Mr. Pezeshkian won. We need a literate president to solve economic problems,” said Abolfazl, an architect of 40 years.

“I don't feel concerned. These (candidates) only raise slogans. When they take power, they do nothing for the people,” said Roya, a 50-year-old housewife.

Called the “doctor” by many Iranians, Mr. Pezeshkian is in favor of “constructive relations” with the States -United, enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and European countries in order to bring the country out of its “isolation”.

But Iran's president has limited powers: he is responsible for implementing, as head of government, the broad policies set by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the head of state and the ultimate decision-maker on strategic issues.

For Ali Vaez, of the International Crisis Group, Mr Pezeshkian's victory “breaks with a series of national elections that have seen the conservative camp strengthen its grip on all centers of power.”

However, “the conservatives' continued dominance of other state institutions,” he said on X. “And the limits of presidential authority mean that Mr Pezeshkian will face an uphill battle to secure greater social and cultural rights at home and a diplomatic commitment to the stranger”.

– “Voice of the voiceless” –

Reformer Pezeshkian wins presidential election in Iran

Iranian presidential candidate and reformer Massoud Pezeshkian votes in Tehran on June 28, 2024 © AFP – ATTA KENARE

Mr. Pezeshkian, a father who raised three children alone after the death of his wife and another child in a car accident in 1993, presents himself as the “voice of the voiceless”.

The president-elect calls for resolving the issue of compulsory veiling for women, one of the causes of the vast protest movement that shook Iran at the end of 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini, arrested for non-compliance with the strict dress code.

The vote in Iran was closely followed abroad while Iran, weight heavy in the Middle East, is at the heart of several geopolitical crises, from the war in Gaza to the nuclear issue, in which he opposes the West.

Mr. Pezeshkian promised to negotiate with Washington to restart Iranian nuclear talks, which have stalled since the American withdrawal in 2018 from an international agreement concluded in 2015.

Des Opposition figures in Iran and in the diaspora had called for a boycott of the vote, judging that the conservative and reformist camps represented two sides of the same coin.

Other weight heavy in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia congratulated Mr. Pezeshkian, with King Salman hoping to “develop relations between the two brotherly countries” which were reconciled in 2023 after several years of rupture.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his “sincere congratulations” to Mr. Pezeshkian and hoped for a “strengthening of bilateral cooperation”.

Even message in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad expressed his country's concern “to strengthen strategic relations” with ally Iran.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116