CBAP Comment by Tereza Kirsch: „For Iran“ amid #electioncircus

July 6, 2024, will represent another crucial date not only for Iranians. Reformist candidate, Masoud Pazeshkian, defeated the ultraconservative candidates, showing the current mood of Iranian society and the call for a change. Masoud Pazeshkian represents a candidate who can bring a fresh vision and open-minded approach to Iranian politics.

His main election promises were allowing women to choose whether to wear hijab, termination of the internet restrictions, and opening new space for open communication and negotiation with the Western world. Despite this progressivity, he clearly stated his sympathy and support for the current Supreme Leader.

The final turnout was 49,8%, with 607 575 voided votes, spreading a clear message of the Iranian people calling for an end to the current government. It can be perceived as a sign not to give further legitimacy to Iranian politics. The whole presidential election was accompanied by #electioncircus campaign, showing the protest of Iranian people against the political regime.

The current situation for the new president is very intricate and harsh. While Pazeshkian is open to social and foreign policy change, Khamenei has not changed his attitude and perception of Western countries. It is very much complicated to make such a discourse change, where since 1979 the Islamic theocracy has been in place. After the official results, Khamenei congratulated the new president, advising him to act in the continuation of the path of Raisi.

The international reaction to the presidential election was almost immediate. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and for example Russia congratulated the new president, however, the USA expressed its concerns about validity and freedom in the election process. Furthermore, in the official statement, it was clearly stated that the USA’s approach towards the Islamic Republic is unlikely to change.

From the international perspective, the Iranian involvement in the Ukrainian war and the war in Gaza complicates the situation for establishing communication channels on a global level.

Next months will show us how the interaction between Khamenei and Pazeshkian will continue, and what changes will be approved by the Supreme Leader. The continuation of the participation in wars in the region and Ukraine, and the progress in Uranium enrichment will likely keep the Iranian society under the sanctions from the Western countries and will decelerate the process of changes.


by Tereza Kirsch, Executive Director of the Center for Security Analysis and Prevention


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