Iran presidential election set between reformers and hardliners: NPR

An Iranian man casts his vote at a polling station in Tehran during the country’s presidential election on Friday.

Hossein Berris/AFP

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Hossein Berris/AFP

Iranians will go to the polls again next week to decide between a reformist and a hardline conservative president.

After the first round of voting on Friday ended with no candidate getting a majority, the second phase of the election is underway. Under Iranian electoral law, a candidate must win an absolute victory with 50% plus one vote.

But two main contenders emerged: the reformist Massoud Besheshkian and the hardliner Seyed Jalili.

Bejeshkian has called for greater contact with the outside world as a means of improving Iran’s economy, while Jalili is a former nuclear negotiator with strong anti-Western views.

The two will meet in the second round of polls scheduled for July 5. The snap election is to replace former president Ibrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

In Iran, the supreme leader wields a lot of power. But the president can still influence domestic and some foreign policy.

The upcoming presidential election will be the second presidential election in the country’s history. The first was in 2005, when hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won against former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Iran’s critics are quick to point to the country’s elections Not free or fair.

How did the first vote go?

On Friday, Pezeshkian received 10.4 million votes, trailing Jalili with 9.4 million, according to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency.

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As some had expected, the hardline vote was split, while Pezeshkian is believed to have received many votes from moderate or reform-minded Iranians.

The election also confirmed widespread dissatisfaction among voters with Iran’s current political process. Turnout was the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic, continuing a trend seen in other recent elections.

What is at stake?

Before President Raisi’s death, he was considered a protégé and possible successor to the 85-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Now, the prospect of replacing Khamenei, who holds the power to make the most important decisions in Iran, remains unclear.

It is clear that Khamenei does not support many of the reform ideas Pezeshkian has put forward, including calls for greater engagement with other countries.

But in general, observers did not predict a significant change in the vote. Neither candidate has pushed for policies that are considered controversial, such as a strict Islamic dress code for women.

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