Moderate Pezeshkian Wins Iran Presidential Election, Urges National Unity

Moderate Pezeshkian Wins Iran Presidential Election, Urges National Unity

Masoud Pezeshkian, a moderate, has won Iran’s presidential election, encouraging citizens to support him through challenging times ahead.

Masoud Pezeshkian, a relative moderate, emerged victorious in Iran’s presidential election, calling for national unity and cooperation following his win over hardline rival Saeed Jalili. Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon, defeated Jalili in a run-off vote held on Friday, becoming the sole moderate candidate from an original field of four.

In his post-election address on social media platform X, Pezeshkian acknowledged the challenges ahead, stating, “Dear people of Iran, the election is over, and this is just the beginning of our working together. A difficult road is ahead. It can only be smooth with your cooperation, empathy, and trust. I extend my hand to you and swear on my honour that I will not abandon you on this path. Do not abandon me.”

The election followed historically low voter turnout in the first round on June 28, with over 60% abstention. However, Friday’s run-off saw almost 50% turnout, a significant increase commended by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who also congratulated Pezeshkian and advised him to continue the policies of his predecessor, President Ebrahim Raisi, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in May.

Pezeshkian’s victory has inspired hope for a pragmatic foreign policy, the easing of tensions surrounding stalled negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear pact, and potential social liberalization and political pluralism. However, many Iranians remain skeptical about his ability to fulfill these promises due to the ultimate authority held by Khamenei in the Islamic Republic.

Videos on social media showcased celebrations across the country, with Pezeshkian’s supporters dancing in the streets and motorists honking their horns in jubilation. His core supporters are believed to be primarily the urban middle class and youth, disillusioned by years of security crackdowns that suppressed public dissent.

Foreign Policy Implications

Pezeshkian’s election victory has raised hopes for improved relations with the West, potentially easing the longstanding nuclear dispute. The election took place amidst escalating regional tensions, including conflicts involving Israel, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and increased Western pressure over Iran’s advancing nuclear program.

Despite the president’s limited power in major policy shifts, particularly regarding Iran’s nuclear program and support for regional militias—domains controlled by Khamenei—the president can still influence the tone of Iran’s foreign policy. Pezeshkian will also play a significant role in the eventual selection of Khamenei’s successor.

Supported by Iran’s reformist camp led by former President Mohammad Khatami, Pezeshkian remains loyal to Iran’s theocratic rule, showing no inclination to challenge the powerful security hawks and clerical rulers.

Foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have extended their congratulations to Pezeshkian, signaling a potential warming of diplomatic relations.