Iran Reformist Leads In Runoff Vote Against Hardline Candidate

Masoud Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, earned the support of Iran’s main reformist coalition.

Tehran:

Iran’s reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian was leading in runoff presidential elections against ultraconservative Saeed Jalili, according to early results released on Saturday by the interior ministry.
Officials have so far counted more than 11 million ballots for Pezeshkian and around 9 million for Jalili, electoral authority spokesman Mohsen Eslami was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.

The final result will be announced later on Saturday.

Iran held the first round of its snap presidential election last week which was marked by a record low turnout.

Only 40 percent of Iran’s 61 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the first round — the lowest turnout in any presidential election since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The first round saw Pezeshkian, a sole reformist candidate, leading the polls running against three conservative figures with Jalili coming second and parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in third place.

As none of the candidates secured more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff round between Pezeshkian and Jalili was held on Friday.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, earned the support of Iran’s main reformist coalition including ex-president Mohammad Khatami and moderate former president Hassan Rouhani.

Jalili, 58, is noted for his uncompromising anti-West position and rallied a substantial base of hardline supporters and received backing from other conservative figures.

The snap elections were originally slated for 2025 but were brought forward after the unexpected death of ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi in a May helicopter crash.

The ballot comes against a backdrop of heightened regional tensions over the Gaza war, a dispute with the West over Iran’s nuclear programme, and domestic discontent over the state of Iran’s sanctions-hit economy.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)