Iran elections: Initial results indicate likely runoff.

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Early counts show hard-liner Saeed Jalili and reformist Masoud Pezeshkian neck-and-neck in Iran’s presidential polls. The snap vote is to elect a successor to late President Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash.

Picture of four presidential candidates
Four candidates were vying for the position of Iranian president Image: Majid Asgaripour/WANA/REUTERS

Neither of the two leaders in Iran‘s snap presidential elections seems in a position to win outright, making a runoff a likely outcome, according to early results reported by Iranian state television on Saturday.

With more than 19 million ballots counted, moderate candidate Masoud Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon, had garnered some 8.3 million votes, while his hard-line challenger Saeed Jalili had won more than 7.18 million.

Parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf was in third with some 2.67 million votes, while the fourth candidate, cleric Mostafa Pourmohammadi, received only some 158,000 votes.

The Tasnim news agency said a runoff election was “very likely” as the country votes for a successor to hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash in May.

Under Iranian electoral law, a runoff between the two top candidates is held on the first Friday after the result is announced if neither wins at least 50% plus one vote from all ballots cast, including blank votes.

Widespread dissatisfaction

The vote comes as the clerical establishment faces widespread public discontent over economic hardship and harsh restrictions on political and social freedoms.

However, insiders reported that the turnout for Friday’s vote was low, at around 40%, with some analysts saying this indicates that the credibility of the country’s political system has been eroded.

Only six candidates from an initial pool of 80 were approved for the election by the country’s hard-line watchdog body, and two of those subsequently dropped out.

 All the candidates pledged to revive the ailing economy, which has been undermined by mismanagement and state corruption, as well as international sanctions that have been reimposed since 2018 after the US withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact with six world powers.

The vote will have no oversight from internationally recognized monitors.

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