09.07.2024 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Iran: new president Masoud Pezeshkian

Masoud Pezeshkian

Veteran parliamentarian and former health minister Masoud Pezeshkian won the second round of the presidential elections in Iran, defeating Saeed Jalili, former negotiator on the nuclear file, in a tough competition. The second round of voting began on July 5 and was extended thrice, each time for two hours, due to a high voter turnout of 49.8% (compared to 40% in the first round).  The spokesperson for the election headquarters, Mohsen Eslami, summed up the results, saying that Pezeshkian secured 16,384,403 votes, while Jalili received 13,538,179 of the more than 30 million votes cast.

Who is Masoud Pezeshkian?

After completing his medical education in 1985, Dr Masoud Pezeshkian initially started teaching physiology at the university level. In 1990, Dr Pezeshkian received a specialisation in general surgery from Tabriz University, which marked the beginning of his path to becoming a famous cardiac surgeon. After that, he continued studying cardiac surgery at the Iran University of Medical Sciences, successfully obtaining his degree in 1993.

Former Minister of Health Alireza Marandi recognised his experience and leadership qualities by appointing Pezeshkian Head of the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, a position he held with distinction until 2000. At a crucial moment in his career, Dr Pezeshkian was appointed Deputy Minister and then Minister of Health in Tehran under the administration of President Mohammad Khatami.

After his tenure as minister, Pezeshkian decided to involve himself fully in the field of politics. He successfully ran for the Iranian parliament, becoming a representative of Tabriz, Azarshahr and Osku. His dedication to serving the people and advocating for healthcare reforms earned him the trust and support of voters, which led to him being elected for parliament several times from 2008 to 2024, when he registered to run for president in early elections in Iran. He previously ran for president in 2013, but unsuccessfully withdrew from the race and failed to qualify in his second attempt in 2021.

Although Pezeshkian personally stated that he did not join any political party and, therefore, does not consider himself a reformist, all the prominent figures and politicians who supported him during the election campaign were mainly from the reformist camp. Additionally, his views often reflect those of previous reformist leaders. It should be noted that Pezeshkian, who also received the most votes in the first round of the presidential race, won despite being the only reformist candidate approved by the Guardian Council to participate in the elections.

Putin highly appreciates the ‘constructive’ ties

Russian leader Vladimir Putin congratulated Pezeshkian on his victory in the second round of the presidential election and attached great importance to improving relations with Iran. “I hope that your tenure as president will further enhance constructive bilateral cooperation in all areas for the benefit of our friendly peoples, in the interests of strengthening regional security and stability”, reads a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.

The Russian President said that Moscow and Tehran “effectively coordinate efforts in addressing pressing issues on the international agenda”. Addressing Pezeshkian, he said in a statement: “I wish you success, good health and prosperity”.

Newly elected President of Iran Masoud Pezeshkian also received congratulatory messages from all corners of the world, including from leaders of neighbouring countries and well-known international organisations. They called for strengthening relations and cooperation with the Islamic Republic on global and regional issues.

In this regard, a constructive message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is noteworthy; he called for developing ties with Iran, congratulating Pezeshkian after winning the second round of the presidential election. “I affirm my keenness to develop and deepen relations binding the countries and peoples together and serving our mutual interests,” Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA. Last year, thanks to a Chinese-brokered deal, Riyadh and Tehran restored diplomatic relations after years of tension. Since then, the two Gulf states have expanded regular contacts in an attempt to strengthen ties.

What the new president will offer the people of Iran

Political observers are now trying to analyse Pezeshkian’s future policy, the potential composition of his new administration and its impact on Iranian domestic and foreign policy. Parviz Amini, a university professor and prominent political expert, believes that the new government is likely to be dominated by moderate factions. Amini noted that Pezeshkian’s campaign lacked specific details about his management strategy. “The effectiveness of his administration will largely depend on the appointments in his cabinet”, Amini said. “There are various factions in the reformist movement and the people chosen for economic, cultural and foreign policy posts will have a significant impact on his presidency”, he said, adding that, in his opinion, moderate politicians will play a central role in the Peseshkian administration.

During his presidential campaign, Pezeshkian was often accompanied by prominent reformist figures, including former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and former Finance Minister Ali Tayebnia. Speaking about the 10% increase in turnout during the second round of the presidential election, Amini suggested that the debate between the two candidates a week prior to the second round played a significant role in increasing voter participation. The debate provided both candidates with a platform to present their vision and appeal to different segments of the electorate. Jalili tried to distract voters from Pezeshkian by presenting his potential administration as a continuation of president Hassan Rouhani’s two terms, which some saw as a period of stagnation. Conversely, Pezeshkian sought to win over Jalili’s supporters by emphasising Jalili’s supposed conservative approach to cultural and social issues”, the expert explained.

On the social network X (formerly Twitter), Pezeshkian thanked the Iranian people for their trust, promising not to let them down: “Dear people of Iran, the elections are over and this is only the beginning of our togetherness. The difficult path ahead will not be smooth except with your companionship, empathy and trust. I extend my hand to you and swear on my honour that I will not leave you alone on this path. Don’t leave me alone either”. It couldn’t have been put any better, but life – as experienced gurus say – is complicated and only it will reveal the truth of these words.


Victor MIKHIN, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, especially for online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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