Iran’s reformist candidate wins first round of election, faces ultra-conservative candidate

Iran’s reformist candidate wins first round of election, faces ultra-conservative candidate

BeirutIran will hold a second round of presidential elections on Friday, July 5, after neither candidate was able to obtain more than 50% support. The high levels of abstention, with voter turnout reaching 40%, the lowest since the beginning of the Islamic Republic in 1979, reflect general disillusionment between Iranians and the Ayatollahs’ regime. Although elections in Iran are seen as just a charade to maintain the regimethe current situation For the ruling clergy, the result of the first round was surprising. Among the two candidates who qualified for the second round for the presidency is the reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, who received the largest number of votes, with 42.4%, and who will face the ultra-conservative Saeed Jalili (38.6%), a strong defender of the Justice and Development Party. Principles of the Islamic Revolution.

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Getting Iranians out of electoral apathy will not be an easy task, so this week will be crucial in mobilizing undecided voters. The hardline candidates lined up in a common front to make way for Jalili, who strongly opposes re-dialogue with the West. In a country suffering from a deep economic crisis and accelerating inflation, partly due to international sanctions imposed on Iran’s nuclear program, the prospects for economic recovery could become more remote if Jalili wins.

Although one cannot speak of opposing tendencies, since progress in Iran is moderate Islam, what most distinguishes his opponent Pezeshkian, and in fact what pushed him into the presidential race, is the inclusion of former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in his team. He held this position during Hassan Rouhani’s first term. Zarif is known as the architect of the nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, which brought a period of economic stability to Iran. However, for the conservative camp, he represents failure and humiliation in Iranian foreign policy.

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Economics, the main point

Iran’s economic recovery was the first goal of all the candidates in the election campaign, and Pezeshkian’s nostalgia for a Rouhani era, with its openness to the West, may benefit. However, with the US presidential elections approaching, the return of Donald Trump may favor Jalili, arguing that the West will betray Iran, as Trump has already done in 2018, by exiting the nuclear agreement. The ultra-conservative candidate repeated during the election campaign, referring to To Western countries, “We must make the enemy regret imposing financial sanctions on us.”

Jalili needs to attract the votes of supporters of the conservative (albeit more moderate) Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Baqir Qalibaf, who has emerged as the preferred candidate. In fact, Ghalibaf and two other hardline candidates who withdrew on Thursday, Ali Reza Zakani and Amir Hossein Qazizadeh, asked their supporters to vote for Jalili in the second round to ensure the victory of the Revolutionary Front.

Questionable progressive ambition

Analysts agree that Pezeshkian failed to unite the reformist camp, let alone reconcile it. Indeed, calls for a boycott – even by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, who is imprisoned, and Mir Hossein Mousavi, a leader of the 2009 Green Movement protests, who remains under house arrest – show that the only progressive candidate’s limited charisma is simply Another candidate approved by the government.

The reformists have suffered a series of defeats in parliament, which is now controlled by the conservative camp, aided by the Guardian Council. With little expectation of change, Iranians will return to the polls next Friday. More than a winning candidate, what is at stake is the party’s victorythe current situation

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