Reformist Pezeshkian Wins Iran’s Presidential Runoff Election, Besting Hard-Liner Jalili

AP file photo
This combination of photos shows Iranian presidential election candidates Masoud Pezeshkian, left, a reformist lawmaker and a former Health Minister, and Saeed Jalili, a hard-line former senior nuclear negotiator, during their campaigns, in Tehran.

DUBAI (AP) — Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian won Iran’s runoff presidential election Saturday, besting hard-liner Saeed Jalili by promising to reach out to the West and ease enforcement on the country’s mandatory headscarf law after years of sanctions and protests squeezing the Islamic Republic.

Pezeshkian promised no radical changes to Iran’s Shiite theocracy in his campaign and long has held Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the final arbiter of all matters of state in the country. But even Pezeshkian’s modest aims will be challenged by an Iranian government still largely held by hard-liners, the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, and Western fears over Tehran enriching uranium to near-weapons-grade levels.

A vote count offered by authorities put Pezeshkian as the winner with 16.3 million votes to Jalili’s 13.5 million in Friday’s election.