Masoud Pezeshkian, a relatively moderate member of Iran’s parliament, has been declared the next president after winning against his hardline conservative rival in a decisive run-off election.

Pezeshkian, 69, replaces Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

Supporters of Pezeshkian, mainly young people, celebrated in Tehran and other cities even before the final results were announced, waving green flags and expressing hope for their future.

Many young Iranians had felt despondent and were considering leaving the country for better opportunities.

Pezeshkian has represented Tabriz in parliament since 2008 and served as the health minister in the past. His personal life includes the tragic loss of his wife and one child in a car accident in the 1990s, after which he raised his three remaining children alone.

His election has disrupted the plans of Islamic hardliners who aimed to install another conservative leader.

Voters like 48-year-old Fatemeh and 37-year-old Afarin believe Pezeshkian will prioritize women’s and young people’s rights, although some, like Afarin, think he may still be a “lame-duck president” compared to hardliners.

Despite widespread discontent and a lack of choice in the elections, many voted tactically for Pezeshkian to prevent a hardline victory that could have worsened Iran’s international relations and economic situation.

Pezeshkian advocates for better relations with Western nations and reviving the nuclear deal to lift sanctions.

However, there are doubts about how much change he can bring, as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, holds the ultimate authority.

Pezeshkian has also promised to remove internet censorship and join international banking conventions, but his ability to implement these changes remains uncertain.

Dr. Sanam Vakil from Chatham House notes that Pezeshkian will need to navigate a conservative-dominated system and may only have influence over economic issues through negotiations with the US for sanctions relief.

Source: BBC

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