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Iran runoff election: What you need to know

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Iran’s presidential runoff election on Friday pits two candidates – a reformist and an ultra-conservative – against each other amid record low voter turnout and a general apathy for meaningful change at the polls.

The runoff follows a special vote held after President Ibrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in May.

About 40% of voters, a record low, I voted last Friday. None of the four candidates received the 50% of votes needed to win the election.

Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian, a former health minister, and ultra-hardliner Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator, received the most votes, sending the election to a runoff on Friday.

Dr Pezeshkian advanced because the conservative vote was split between two candidates, one of whom received less than 1 per cent.

Turnout in the runoff is likely to be slightly higher. Some Iranians have said on social media that they fear Jalili’s hard-line policies and will vote for Dr. Pezeshkian. Polls show that about half of the votes from Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, Jalili’s conservative opponent in the first round, went to Dr. Pezeshkian.

Experts say Pezeshkian has the best chance of boosting turnout among supporters of reformist parties and those who boycotted parliamentary elections in March and presidential elections in 2021. Pezeshkian has said he would pursue nuclear talks with the West to lift crippling economic sanctions that have plagued Iran’s economy.

Jalili, on the other hand, has taken a tougher stance in the negotiations and said during the debate that he plans to break sanctions and strengthen economic ties with other countries.

Iran’s nuclear policy and major national policies are determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He has approved the Iranian government’s indirect contacts with the United States to lift sanctions. Those talks are likely to continue regardless of who is president.

Although Iranians have traditionally been enthusiastic about elections, many restraint They voted in recent elections to protest a government they see as incompetent and out of touch with their demands. Many no longer believe voting will change their lives and are calling for an end to clerical rule.

Ghalibaf asked his supporters to vote for Jalili in the runoff, but many of his supporters, including some of his campaign managers, switched to Pezeshkian’s camp, calling Jalili destructive to Iran’s future and a threat to increase tensions both inside Iran and internationally.

In 2013, Iranians voted for reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani in a presidential election on promises of building a more open country and reducing social restrictions. In 2018, President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions, effectively ending hopes for cooperation.

When the conservative Raisi succeeded Rouhani, the prospects for improving social freedoms dimmed.

Many human rights groups accused the Guardian Council, a group of 12 jurists and clerics, of rigging the election by depriving the public of the ability to choose candidates. The Guardian Council whittled the list of 80 candidates for the election to six and disqualified seven women, a former president and many government officials.

The election is a chance for the government to show it can cope with the unexpected death of the president and avoid chaos at a time of protests within the Islamic Republic and tensions with the United States and Israel.

If Jalili is elected, the government will likely win due to its ideologically driven political style.

While the supreme leader is the country’s highest authority and is responsible for setting foreign policy, the president sets domestic policy and can influence Iran’s Mandatory headscarf law for women.

Six years after the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the new president’s role in managing the nuclear program is unclear. The issue has become increasingly urgent for the West as tensions between Israel and Iran escalate.

The weak economy, U.S.-led sanctions and women’s rights were major issues in the election, with many Iranians losing trust in the government and seeing it as incapable of enacting change.

The sanctions have strained the country’s already struggling economy. Public discontent has grown as some feel their leaders preach frugality while their families spend. Luxurious abroad.

The Interior Ministry announced the runoff a day after the first round of voting. Officials are likely to announce at least preliminary results by Saturday.

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