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Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist president open to the West, comes to power



Aged 69, a heart surgeon by profession and a member of parliament, Masoud Pezeshkian does not have much experience in the executive branch. Virtually unknown, he was Minister of Health from 2000 to 2004 in the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami. The latter, like the former moderate president Hassan Rohani, has supported Pezeshkian’s candidacy several times in recent days.

Masoud Pezeshkian was “the phenomenon of this election”, indicates the daily Farhikhteganemphasizing that “Nobody bet on his victory”However, part of the academic community, artists and activists mobilized in its favor. For their part, opponents from the diaspora and political prisoners in Iran boycotted the vote.

Pezeshkian won more than 16 million votes (53.6%) out of 30 million cast, compared to more than 13 million votes for his opponent, Said Jalili, a heavyweight among the ultraconservatives known for his inflexibility towards the West. Turnout for this second round was 49.8%, after a first round on June 28 marked by a historic abstention.

During the election campaign, Mr. Pezeshkian promised to enter into dialogue with the West and to pursue a policy of de-escalation with the United States, a country that the Iranian regime considers its enemy. He promised to end restrictions on the Internet, but also the presence of the morality police, responsible for enforcing the obligation of women to wear headscarves on the street.

As a reminder, the death of Mahsa Aminiheld by this police unit, had sparked a large protest movement in the country in the fall of 2022. At the time, Mr. Pezeshkian was one of the few politicians to have strongly denounced the authorities for this tragedy.

In televised debates, the reformist politician advocated for increasing the presence of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as women, in Iran’s political system. Thus, the daily Farhikhtegan shows hope that the new president “can reduce social and ethnic divides” in the country and “use elites” in his government.

Although images from polling stations do not show a strong turnout of women for him, women in Iran’s Kurdistan and Baluchistan regions, as well as those in Sunni provinces, voted for him, believes the daily newspaper knows Hamshhari.

“Listening to the voices of those who boycotted”

Sociologist Mohammad Fazeli, in a column published in the daily newspaper EtemadPezeshkian called on “listen to the voices of those who boycotted” elections and “talking to the population about the reality of the challenges” to which they will have to facing his future government.

“Immediately after the announcement of Pezeshkian’s victory, the value of the rial increased against the dollar and the stock index improved” in Iran, reports the opposition media Radio Farda. From the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and the reestablishment of sanctions against Tehran, “Iran’s national currency had lost almost 90% of its value,” explains the Persian-speaking media.

“Responding to a wave of demands”

For the opposition media Iran Internationalthe boycott of the elections was a great victory for the opponents, “even considering official statistics which are not reliable”. Pezeshkian “will soon have to respond to a large wave of popular demands,” recalls the London-based media outlet, arguing nonetheless that the president in Iran has limited prerogatives.

So, he would not be able, according to Iran International, to overcome “major challenges”, as the existence of a “large number of political prisoners”, “the deplorable situation of human rights” In Iran, the issue of compulsory hijab and women’s rights.

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