Home General Iran’s Presidential Election: Runoff Vote Expected Given Low Turnout

Iran’s Presidential Election: Runoff Vote Expected Given Low Turnout

Iran's, Khamenei, Loyalists, Election
FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 35th anniversary of the death of the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, at Khomeini's shrine in southern Tehran, Iran June 3, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Iran’s presidential election appears headed for a run-off vote next month.  Of more than 10 million ballots counted so far, hardline former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, seen as close to Supreme Leader Khamenei, was leading with 4.26 million votes. Close behind him was reformist moderate Massoud Pezeshkian with 4.24 million votes.

The Tasnim news agency said “Jalili and Pezeshkian will compete in a runoff election”, indicating that no candidate is likely to win the 50% +1 vote required to be declared the victor. Reports so far indicate a 40% turnout, lower than what the country’s clerical rulers expected, even in cities like the capital Tehran.

Critics of the Islamic regime say a low turnout indicates the system’s legitimacy has eroded over the years. Turnout was 48% in the 2021 presidential election (which saw Ebrahim Raisi elected). The parliamentary election three months ago saw a record low turnout of 41%.

Jalili has campaigned on the plank of social justice and fighting corruption and Pezeshkian while being faithful to Iran’s theocratic rulers wants détente with the West, economic reform and political liberalisation.

“We will respect the hijab law but there should never be any intrusive or inhumane behaviour towards women,” Pezeshkian said, referring to the killing of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini two years ago by the morality police. It sparked unrest in the streets against Iran’s clerical rulers resulting in 500 deaths including over 70 minor children.

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Fortune appears to favour Jalili given that the reformist or moderates have largely been sidelined over the years.  Khamenei’s broad hints during the election campaign suggest he has no use for Pezeshkian’s moderate views.

On the social media platform X, Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah, was active using #ElectionCircus.

“The evidence from empty polling stations across the country demonstrates the Iranian nation’s decisive rejection of the regime … I salute all of you inside the country who … stayed at home and did not stain your hands or your honour by cooperating with the oppressive regime.”

The final vote count is expected later this evening.