July 18th, 2024

Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian leads hard-liner Saeed Jalili in Iran presidential runoff election

By Jon Gambrell And Amir Vahdat, The Associated Press on July 5, 2024.

Reformist candidate for the Iran's presidential election Masoud Pezeshkian clenches his fist after casting his vote as he is accompanied by former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, at a polling station in Shahr-e-Qods near Tehran, Iran, Friday, July 5, 2024. Iranians are voting in a runoff election to replace the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a May helicopter crash in the country’s northwest along with the foreign minister and several other officials. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian’s lead against hard-liner Saeed Jalili widened early Saturday to over 2 million votes as counting continued in Iran’s presidential runoff election.

Mohsen Eslami, an election spokesperson, said Pezeshkian had 11.1 million votes, leading Jalili’s 9 million. He gave no total turnout figure as counting went on.

The first round of voting June 28 saw the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian officials have long pointed to turnout as a sign of support for the country’s Shiite theocracy, which has been under strain after years of sanctions crushing Iran’s economy, mass demonstrations and intense crackdowns on all dissent.

Government officials up to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted a higher participation rate as voting got underway, with state television airing images of modest lines at some polling centers across the country.

However, online videos purported to show some polls empty while a survey of several dozen sites in the capital, Tehran, saw light traffic amid a heavy security presence on the streets.

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Vahdat reported from Tehran, Iran. Nasser Karimi contributed to this report.

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