The Iranian presidential election polls are now open.

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The Iranian presidential election polls are now open.

For the second time in Iranian electoral history, a second round will be held on July 5 if no candidate receives 50% of the vote.
TEHRAN: In the wake of ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash last month, polls for Iran’s presidential election started on Friday.
The Iranian presidential election polls are now open.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, waves during the casting of his ballot in the presidential runoff elections in Tehran on June 28, 2024. — AFP

Masoud Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old reformist, is hoping for a historic victory against a split conservative camp in the polls, which are expected to draw in about 61 million Iranian voters.

He was permitted to run against a field of conservatives led by former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf by the Guardian Council, which screens candidates.

Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Raisi’s former vice president, and Tehran major Alireza Zakani withdrew, leaving just cleric Mostafa Pourmohammadi in the running.

In a televised speech, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, “We start the elections” for the nation’s fourteenth presidential contest.

Shortly after polls opened, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, encouraged Iranians to cast their ballots.

In a televised statement, he declared, “For us Iranians, election day is a day of joy and happiness.” He also urged a large turnout.

“We encourage our dear people to take the issue of voting seriously and participate,” he stated.

As the Gaza War rages on, there are intense regional tensions between the Islamic republic and its arch-foes, Israel and the United States, coinciding with the election in sanctions-hit Iran.

Voting began at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT) at 58,640 polling places nationwide, the most of which were in mosques and schools.

Though officials may decide to extend voting hours, as they have in past elections, polling places will be open for ten hours.

Official results are anticipated on Sunday, with preliminary projections due by Saturday morning.

For the second time in Iranian electoral history, a runoff vote will be place on July 5 if no candidate receives 50% of the vote. This will be the first round of voting in the country since 2005.

After years of domination by the conservative and ultraconservative factions, Pezeshkian’s candidacy has rekindled cautious optimism for Iran’s reformist wing. Pezeshkian was a relative unknown until recently.

He was described as “honest, fair, and caring” by Mohammad Khatami, the last reformist president of Iran.

Khatami, who led Iran from 1997 to 2005, was also a supporter of the centrist Hassan Rouhani, who emerged victorious and finalized Iran’s nuclear agreement with the West in 2015 until it fell apart three years later.

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