update deskMiddle East

Masoud Pezeshkian wins Iran’s presidential runoff vote

The supposed moderate wants to have "friendly relations with all countries except Israel.”

Iranian President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian. Source: X.
Iranian President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian. Source: X.

Masoud Pezeshkian won Iran’s second-round presidential vote held Friday, receiving more than 16 million votes to candidate and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili’s more than 13 million, according to Tehran’s electoral authority.

Some 30 million ballots were cast, putting turnout at about 49.8%, up from the record low of 39.93% in the first round.

Pezeshkian, a supposed reformer, has called for outreach to the West, drawing the ire of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. However, he is not expected to produce any major policy shift in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program or support for terrorist groups across the Middle East, including Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and numerous militias in Iraq and Syria.

Pezeshkian, a former heart surgeon born in 1954 to an Iranian Azerbaijani father and Iranian Kurdish mother, said on Friday that should he win the presidency, he would “try to have friendly relations with all countries except Israel.”

Jalili is known as the “Living Martyr” due to the fact that he lost a leg during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, and is a hard-liner known for fiery speeches.

The runoff followed a June 28 snap election called in the aftermath of President Ebrahim Raisi‘s death in a May 19 helicopter crash. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian; Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the regime’s representative in East Azerbaijan; and Malek Rahmati, the province’s governor, were also killed, along with the pilot and co-pilot.

Afterwards, 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.

Concurrently, 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 unchanged.

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

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