Daily Review: Could a Reformist Really Win Iran’s Presidency?

Daily Review: Could a Reformist Really Win Iran’s Presidency?
Posters of reformist candidate for the Iranian presidential election Masoud Pezeshkian are pasted on the wall at his campaign headquarters, in Tehran, Iran, June 29, 2024 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Masoud Pezeshkian, a little-known reformist candidate, will face hardliner Saeed Jalili in the runoff of the Iran’s snap presidential election Friday, after Pezeshkian won the first round but failed to secure a majority of the vote. The first round, which took place last Friday, saw fewer than 40 percent of Iran’s eligible voters cast a ballot, with many saying they will not turn out for Friday’s runoff round either. (AP)

Our Take

As we’ve mentioned in previous editions of the Daily Review, Iran’s elections are heavily managed by the country’s clerical regime, which narrows down the list of potential candidates to only those it approves. But in the past, there has been room for surprises, because the regime has often included at least one reformist option in order to maintain some veneer of legitimacy, if not internationally then at least domestically.

In the most recent elections prior to this one, though, the regime had effectively sidelined reformist and reformist-adjacent candidates, who in the 2010s had pushed for more engagement with the West. The result is that the candidates for president in 2021 and for parliament earlier this year were almost entirely hardliners.

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