Reformist Masud Pezeshkian wins second round of Iran’s presidential election and will become the country’s next president, Iran’s Election Commission said.

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Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, won 53.6% of the vote against ultra-conservative Saeed Jalili’s 44.3%, in an election that saw a 49.9% turnout with 30,573,931 votes cast.

“Thus, Mr. Masud Pezeshkian is the winner of the fourteenth presidential election of the Islamic Republic of Iran.“Iranian Election Commission spokesman Mohsen Eslami announced in a televised press conference.

The former health minister and parliamentarian will become the ninth president in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran and will succeed the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter accident in May.

Iran’s president-elect was a little-known politician at the start of his campaign, but has steadily gained popularity with a message of moderation, rapprochement with the West and criticism of the veil.

He has managed to unite the vote of discontent with the policies of Raisí, under whose government social and political repression increased, while his campaign has fueled fear of Jalili, an ultraconservative with a reputation for “uncompromising”.

Pezeshkian will become the first president of the reformist group, a political group that seeks to open up the country at a time of strong regional tensions due to the war in Gaza, but also within the country due to policies such as the imposition of the veil and the lack of freedoms.

The Iranian president has decision-making power in domestic matters and to a lesser extent in foreign and security policy in Iran, where Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei serves as head of state with vast powers.

The 61 million Iranians who were called to vote were also at stake in the elections, with 49.8% of the electorate voting, an improvement from 39.9% in the first round.

This 39.9% was a record abstention rate in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has always attached great importance to participation as proof of popular support and its legitimacy.

This low turnout revealed the discontent of a significant portion of the population with the political system established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

What message did Masud Pezeshkian send?

“The difficult road ahead will not be easy except with your camaraderie, empathy and trust.“he wrote in X shortly after the official announcement of his victory, in an admission of the difficulties that await him.

“I swear on my honour that I will not leave you alone on this path. Don’t leave me alone,” he added.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, also offered a “friendly hand to all” in a message of national reconciliation at a time of strong tensions in the country due to the poor economic situation and the lack of social freedoms.

“We will extend our hand to everyone in friendship. They are all from this country. We must use them all for the progress of the country. They are our brothers,” the reformist politician told state television in his first remarks since winning the presidential election.

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