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Results of the Iranian presidential election: A Moderate surprise

Pezeshkian. Wikipedia, Mohammadreza Abbasi

On Friday, the Iranian presidential election was held, and for the second time in the Islamic Republic’s history, a second round would be needed, as none of the candidates recived more than 50% of the vote. This is a special election in general, as it takes place 3 years after the previous elections (rather than 4 as customary), due to the sudden death of the President of the Republic, Ibrahim Raisi, in a helicopter accident on the Azerbaijani border in early May. President Raisi is considered one of the most powerful men in Iran and an intended heir to Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader; his sudden death (along with the Iranian Foreign Minister) led to a vacuum in the political system and the battle for succession.

The final stretch was reached by 4 main candidates (when it is important to remember that this is not a full democracy – since the Supreme Leader, (who was not elected by the public and serves for life, and actually makes the decisions in Iran –) filters candidates in the first place, so that an outside-systemic party has no chance of running at all). The two candidates with the highest number of votes, who will face each other in the second round, are Massoud Pezeshkian (with about 40% of the vote), and Saad Jalili (with about 37% of the vote). Jalili was considered a member of the more aggressive Raisi camp, and Pezeshkian was considered a member of the reformist camp (the one to which former President Rouhani belonged) – reforms within the boundaries of the system, of course. Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Kalibaf received only 10% of the vote and expressed his support for Jalili.

What does the outcome mean for Israel? Well, the two candidates aren’t very good for us, but from different directions. Jalili is expected to continue Raisi’s aggressive stance toward Israel – to support its enemies with arms, and even to confront them directly (as it did in April). Pezeshkian is expected to take a more moderate approach, avoid a direct confrontation, and even try to return to the nuclear agreement with the superpowers. This does not mean that Iran will cease to be our enemy – but that the struggle with Iran will return to a more strategic aspect, its assistance to our enemies will return to being more covert, and its open relations with the superpowers will make it difficult for Israel to act against it in a strong way.

An encouraging angle in the election results can be found in the fact that only about 40% of the Iranian population participated in the vote, which proves a lack of trust in the political system and the Iranian leadership. If we wish for a change in the Middle East, it can grow from the younger generation in Iran, which is increasingly fed up with its leadership, which is sacrificing all the country’s resources for the fight against Israel.

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