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DUBAI: A low-key average and a protege of Iran’s supreme chief are neck-and-neck within the vote depend in snap presidential elections marked by voter apathy over financial hardships and social restrictions.
Greater than 14 million votes have been counted so removed from Friday’s vote, of which the only average candidate Massoud Pezeshkian had received over 5.9 million votes and his hard-line challenger former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili over 5.5 million, provisional outcomes by the inside ministry confirmed.
Some insiders stated the turnout was round 40 p.c, decrease than anticipated by Iran’s clerical rulers, whereas witnesses stated that polling stations in Tehran and another cities weren’t crowded.
Iran’s Tasnim information company stated a run-off election was “very possible” to choose the following president following the demise of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash final month.
If no candidate wins a minimum of 50 p.c plus one vote from all ballots forged, together with clean votes, a run-off between the highest two candidates is held on the primary Friday after the result’s declared.
The election coincides with escalating regional rigidity as a result of battle between Israel and Iranian allies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, in addition to elevated Western strain on Iran over its fast-advancing nuclear program.
Whereas the election is unlikely to convey a significant shift within the Islamic Republic’s insurance policies, its consequence might affect the succession to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s 85-year-old supreme chief, in energy since 1989.
The clerical institution sought a excessive turnout to offset a legitimacy disaster fueled by public discontent over financial hardship and curbs on political and social freedom.
The subsequent president just isn’t anticipated to usher in any main coverage shift on Iran’s nuclear program or help for militia teams throughout the Center East, since Khamenei calls all of the photographs on high state issues.
Nevertheless, the president runs the federal government day-to-day and might affect the tone of Iran’s international and home coverage.
Pezeshkian’s views supply a distinction to these of Jalili, advocating detente with the West, financial reform, social liberalization and political pluralism.
A staunch anti-Westerner, Jalili’s win would sign the potential of an much more antagonistic flip within the Islamic Republic’s international and home coverage, analysts stated.
The election was a contest amongst a tightly managed group of three hard-line candidates and one low-profile average loyal to the supreme chief. A tough-line watchdog physique permitted solely six from an preliminary pool of 80 and two hard-line candidates subsequently dropped out.
“Primarily based on unconfirmed studies, the election could be very possible heading to a second spherical … Jalili and Pezeshkian will compete in a run-off election,” Tasnim reported.
Critics of the clerical institution say that low turnouts in recent times present the system’s legitimacy has eroded. Turnout was 48 p.c within the 2021 presidential election and a report low of 41 p.c of individuals voted in a parliamentary election in March.
All candidates have vowed to revive the flagging financial system, beset by mismanagement, state corruption and sanctions re-imposed since 2018, after the US ditched Tehran’s nuclear pact.
“I feel Jalili is the one candidate who raised the difficulty of justice, preventing corruption and giving worth to the poor. … Most significantly, he doesn’t hyperlink Iran’s international coverage to the nuclear deal,” stated Farzan, a 45-year-old artist within the metropolis of Karaj.
Pezeshkian, trustworthy to Iran’s theocratic rule, is backed by the reformist faction that has largely been sidelined in Iran in recent times.
“We are going to respect the hijab legislation, however there ought to by no means be any intrusive or inhumane conduct towards girls,” Pezeshkian stated after casting his vote.
He was referring to the demise of Mahsa Amini, a younger Kurdish lady, in 2022 whereas in morality police custody for allegedly violating the necessary Islamic gown code.
The unrest sparked by Amini’s demise spiraled into the largest present of opposition to Iran’s clerical rulers in years.
Pezeshkian tried to revive the passion of reform-minded voters who’ve largely stayed away from the polls for the final 4 years as a largely youthful inhabitants chafes at political and social curbs. He might additionally profit from his rivals’ failure to consolidate the hard-line vote.
Prior to now few weeks, Iranians have made huge use of the hashtag #ElectionCircus on X, with some activists at house and overseas calling for a boycott, saying a excessive turnout would solely serve to legitimize the Islamic Republic.

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