Iranians return to polls to pick new president amid voter turnout concerns

MONITORING (SW) – Iranians have returned to the polls for a presidential run-off which pits Masoud Pezeshkian against Saeed Jalili in the race to succeed Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

The second round on Friday comes as neither contender secured an outright majority on June 28, with Pezeshkian receiving about 42.5 percent of votes and Jalili some 38.7 percent.

The election is being held against the backdrop of heightened regional tensions over Israel’s war on Gaza, Iran’s dispute with the West over its nuclear programme, growing discontent over the state of an economy crippled by sanctions, and disillusionment following deadly protests in 2022-2023.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, cast his ballot when polling stations opened at 8am (04:30 GMT), state TV showed.

“It’s a good day to participate in the electoral process,” he said in an address encouraging people to come out and vote.

“Hopefully we will choose the right candidate. At this stage, people should make an extra effort to elect a president by tomorrow.”

Only 40 percent of Iran’s 61 million eligible voters cast their ballot in June, the lowest turnout in any presidential election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.