Iranian Presidential Run-off Debate: Dr Massoud Pezeshkian vs. Saeed Jalili – Who Will Win?

Tehran, Iran – In the upcoming Iranian presidential election, voters are faced with a choice between a hardline conservative and a reformist candidate. The run-off comes after no candidate secured a majority in the first round of voting on June 28, which saw a historically low voter turnout of 40%.

Dr. Massoud Pezeshkian, a former heart surgeon, is set to challenge his rival Saeed Jalili in the election. Pezeshkian has been vocal about his criticisms of Iran’s morality police, advocating for unity and an end to the country’s isolation from the world. On the other hand, Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator, is known for his hardline anti-Western stance and opposition to restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

Both candidates had to pass through a vetting process by the Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists with significant power in Iran. Criticized by human rights groups for disqualifying candidates not deemed loyal enough to the regime, the Guardian Council eliminated 74 candidates from the race, including several women.

With voter apathy playing a crucial role in the election, many young and middle-class Iranians, disillusioned by years of civil unrest, have shown mistrust towards the government. Despite the low turnout in the first round, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected claims that it represents a rejection of his rule.

Preceding the run-off, Iranian social media has seen a viral hashtag urging people not to vote for either candidate, labeling those who do as “traitors.” Nonetheless, local media within Iran has been encouraging people to participate in the election, stressing the importance of each vote for the country’s future.

The future of Iran hangs in the balance as voters head to the polls to make their decision. The preliminary election results are anticipated to be revealed by Saturday morning, shedding light on the next chapter of Iran’s political landscape.