Iran Presidential Vote Heads to Runoff After Record Low Turnout

(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s snap presidential election will go to a runoff on July 5, pitting a reformist against an anti-Western hardliner, after a record-low voter turnout failed to yield an outright winner.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old former health minister and heart surgeon, was in the lead according to the latest vote count, announced Iranian state TV on Saturday, ahead of 58-year-old former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Despite his surge in overnight vote counting, Pezeshkian remains shy of the 50% of votes required for a decisive first-round win.

Heart Surgeon, Tehran Mayor Contend for Iran’s Presidency

The runoff is scheduled for July 5, with candidates allowed to campaign until the morning of July 4, according to the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency.

According to state TV, 24.5 million of Iran’s 61.4 million eligible voters cast their ballots on Friday, setting a record low turnout for a presidential election in the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s Election Overshadowed by Economic and Regional Turmoil

It’s the third time in a row that a major political ballot in Iran has plumbed new low levels of participation, a reflection of the fact that the religious establishment, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has faced unprecedented levels of opposition and dissent in recent years.

The 2021 presidential election had turnout of 48.8% and propelled hard line cleric Ebrahim Raisi — whose death last month in a helicopter crash triggered Friday’s election — into office.

Other candidates on Friday included parliamentary speaker and former mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who placed third, and cleric Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who finished fourth.

(Recasts with runoff announcement and latest vote count.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.