Iran's presidential runoff is between reformists and hardliners: NPR


An Iranian man casts his vote at a polling station in Tehran during Iran's presidential election on Friday.

An Iranian man casts his vote during Friday's presidential election in Tehran.

Hussain Berris/AFP


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Hussain Berris/AFP

Iranians will go to the polls again next week to decide between a reformist and hard-line conservative for president.

The run-off election followed Friday's first vote, in which no candidate could win a majority. Under Iranian electoral law, a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one vote to win outright.

But two top contenders emerged: the reformist Massoud Pizshakyan and the hardline Saeed Jalili.

Pezheshkian has pushed for greater access to the outside world as a means of improving Iran's economy, while Jalili is a former nuclear negotiator with anti-Western views.

The two will face off in the second phase of voting on July 5. The election is to replace former president Ibrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

In Iran, the Supreme Leader wields the most power. But the president can still influence domestic and some foreign policies.

This upcoming election will be the second presidential election in the country's history. The first contest took place in 2005, when hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won against former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Iran's critics are quick to point out that the country's elections are not free or fair.

How did the first vote go?

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency, on Friday, Pizshakyan received 10.4 million votes while Jalili received 9.4 million votes.

As some expected, the hardline vote was split, while Pezhashkian is believed to have won many of the votes of moderate or reformist Iranians.

The election also confirmed widespread voter dissatisfaction with the current political process in Iran. Turnout appears to be a record low in the Islamic Republic's history, continuing a trend seen in other recent elections.

What is at stake?

Before President Raisi's death, the hardline leader was seen as a possible successor to 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Now, the prospect of who might replace Khamenei, who wields the power to make the biggest decisions in Iran, is even more unclear.

What is clear is that Khamenei does not support many of the reformist ideas proposed by Pizshakyan, including seeking greater engagement with other countries.

But by and large, observers don't foresee any significant change from the vote. Neither candidate has proposed policies that would be considered controversial, such as addressing a strict Islamic dress code for women.

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