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Iran’s presidential election heads to dramatic run-off amid low turnout

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Iran’s presidential election heads to dramatic run-off amid low turnout

Iran will hold a run-off election after hardline candidate Saeed Jalili and reformist rival Massoud Pezeshkian both failed to secure a majority in the presidential race. Candidates need to win 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off, but both contenders hovered around the 40% mark, with Mr. Pezeshkian finishing narrowly ahead.

The interior ministry confirmed that the second round of voting is set for 5 July. In a tragic turn of events, two security force members were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying election boxes in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, according to state media reports.

Former nuclear negotiator Mr. Jalili trailed Mr. Pezeshkian, a former heart surgeon and health minister, by about a million votes, early results from the interior ministry show. Mr. Pezeshkian has promised a different approach, criticizing the actions of the morality police who enforce strict dress codes on women as “immoral.”

Although seen as a reformist, Mr. Pezeshkian remains deeply loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Some commentators suggest that, should Mr. Pezeshkian be elected, Iran should not expect more than a difference in tone rather than substantial policy changes.

The vote is to replace former President Ebrahim Raisi, who died on 19 May when the helicopter he was in crashed into a mountain, killing seven others.

Iran's presidential election heads to dramatic run-off amid low turnout
Iranians holding up their documents after voting in Tehran on Friday

Despite there being 61.5 million eligible voters in Iran, only around 40% turned out to vote, marking the lowest participation rate since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had called for “maximum” turnout, urging citizens to participate in the election process.

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