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    Iranians Head to the Polls to Replace President Killed in Helicopter Crash

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    Iranians Head to the Polls to Replace President Killed in Helicopter Crash
    • June 28, 2024 • 24 days ago
    in summary
    The Iranian presidential election, moved up a year following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, is underway. Voters are choosing among four contenders: conservative Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, hardliner Saeed Jalili, moderate Masoud Pezeshkian, and conservative Mostafa Pourmohammadi. The election will determine Iran's next leader amid rising tensions with the West and influence succession plans for the next supreme leader. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters. Polls close at 6pm (14:30 GMT), with possible extensions until midnight.

    In an unexpected and tragic turn of events, Iranians are heading to the polls to elect a new president following the untimely death of President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash on May 19. The election, originally scheduled for next year, was moved up to address the sudden power vacuum created by the accident.

    The tragic crash that claimed the life of President Raisi has thrust the nation into a state of mourning and political uncertainty. Raisi, known for his conservative stance and influential role in Iranian politics, left a significant gap in the leadership landscape. As a result, this election has become not only a decision on the next president but also a critical moment that will help shape Iran’s future direction, both domestically and in its foreign relations.

    Four candidates are vying for the presidency: conservative Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, hardliner Saeed Jalili, moderate Masoud Pezeshkian, and conservative Mostafa Pourmohammadi. The diversity of the candidates presents voters with stark choices about the country’s future path.

    Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the current Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, represents the conservative faction. Known for his pragmatic approach, Ghalibaf has a background in the Revolutionary Guard and has held various significant governmental positions. His platform emphasizes maintaining Iran’s sovereignty and strengthening its economy through internal resources.

    Saeed Jalili, a hardliner and former chief nuclear negotiator, advocates for deepening Iran’s relationships with Russia and China. He is a staunch supporter of Iran’s nuclear program and the country’s network of anti-Israel militias. Jalili’s campaign focuses on resisting Western influence and fortifying Iran’s alliances with other anti-Western states.

    Masoud Pezeshkian, a moderate and reformist, leads in the polls with his platform centered on re-engaging with the West. Pezeshkian, a medical doctor and current deputy speaker of parliament, promotes policies aimed at reducing international isolation and revitalizing the economy through diplomatic engagements and lifting sanctions. His campaign appeals to Iranians who are disillusioned with the current economic hardships and are seeking change.

    Mostafa Pourmohammadi, another conservative candidate, brings a judicial background to his campaign. His platform is similar to Ghalibaf’s, emphasizing law and order, economic resilience, and maintaining Iran’s ideological stance.

    The stakes of this election are high. The new president will not only lead a country that is increasingly antagonistic to the West but also play a crucial role in shaping the succession plans for the next supreme leader. Iran’s political future hinges on the outcome of this election, which could either reinforce the current hardline stance or open the door to more moderate, reformist policies.

    Polls will close at 6 pm (14:30 GMT), but voting can be extended for multiple two-hour periods until midnight, allowing as many citizens as possible to cast their ballots. The turnout will be closely watched, especially since the 2021 election had the lowest voter turnout in any presidential election since 1979, with just over 48 percent participation. High voter engagement could signal renewed faith in the political process, while low turnout might indicate growing disillusionment.

    Voter turnout will also signal whether Iranians are getting fed up with their system of governance
    Voter turnout is being closely monitored

    If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters. The potential for a runoff adds another layer of uncertainty to an already unpredictable political landscape.

    This election is a pivotal moment for Iran, as it grapples with internal challenges and external pressures. The new president will need to navigate complex geopolitical dynamics, economic sanctions, and a society that is increasingly vocal about its demands for change. The world watches closely as Iranians make their choice, knowing that the outcome will reverberate far beyond the nation’s borders.

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