update deskMiddle East

Iranian presidential election goes to run-offs

The election featured the lowest voter turnout in the country's history.

Iranians cast their votes at a polling station in Tehran, Iran during the presidential election on June 28, 2024. Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images.
Iranians cast their votes at a polling station in Tehran, Iran during the presidential election on June 28, 2024. Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images.

Iran is headed to run-off elections after last week’s vote yielded no clear winner.

Friday’s election saw reformist Masoud Pezeshkian receive 10.4 million votes whereas hard-liner Saeed Jalili received 9.4 million votes. The election featured the lowest turnout in Iran’s history at only 39.9%.

Iranian law requires a clear majority of more than 50% of ballots in order to win. Two additional candidates split roughly 3.5 million votes, meaning Pezeshkian failed to clear the threshold.

Iran was sent to elections after former president Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a May 19 helicopter crash.

The crash occurred in the country’s northwestern East Azerbaijan province and also claimed the lives of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the regime’s representative in East Azerbaijan, and Malek Rahmati, the province’s governor, along with the pilot and co-pilot.

Afterwards, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei confirmed that First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would temporarily take charge of the executive branch and had up to 50 days to hold elections, leading to Friday’s vote.

Whoever wins the run-off will not change the country’s stance on Israel. Shortly after Raisi’s death, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Tehran’s support for “the oppressed people of Palestine and resistance groups [pursuing] the unalienable rights of the Palestinians to the liberation of their land and standing against the usurping Zionist regime” will carry on as usual.

Kanaani also said that Amir-Abdollahian’s efforts to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic would continue.

“There has been no change in the approach or the structure of our indirect talks [with the United States] within the framework of negotiations to remove unfair sanctions. We will continue diplomatic efforts within the same framework and with the same approach,” the spokesman stressed.

Jalili is known as the “Living Martyr” due to the fact that he lost a leg during the Iran-Iraq war, and is a hard-liner known for fiery speeches.

Pezeshkian, a reformer, has called for outreach to the West, drawing the ire of Khamenei.

“Some politicians in our country believe they must kowtow to this power or that power, and [that] it’s impossible to progress without sticking to famous countries and powers. Some think like that. Or they think that all ways to progress pass through America. No, such people can’t run the country well,”  Khamenei said in a speech last week.

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