Presidential elections in Iran: change in sight?

In the first round of the presidential elections in Iran, Masoud Pezeshkian, the only candidate from the more moderate camp, won 42.5 percent of the votes. Hardliner Saeed Jalili came second with around 38.7 percent. The outcome will be decided in a second round on 5 July. The former president Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in May. Europe's press assesses the situation.

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Grigorii Golosov (RU) /

Voters thwart leaders' plans

In a Facebook post, political scientist Grigorii Golosov interprets the elections as a slap in the face for Iran's leaders:

“Iran has shown that elections with limited choices but honest vote counting can lead to results that scupper the authoritarian norm. In good Russian tradition one could say that the victory of the 'reformist' Pezeshkian in the first round was 'arranged', but no serious Iran analyst was expecting any such a thing. I am assuming that the ruling Iranian clergy had no reason to consult with Pezeshkian. They were all expecting Jalili to win in the first round and to bring in a second 'conservative' in round two. The electorate obviously thought differently.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Democratic energy under the surface

The Irish Times senses a growing appetite for change:

“Despite the low turnout, Pezeshkian, who has spoken of the need to reopen talks with the US on Iran's sanctioned nuclear programme, and who favours easing compulsory hijab-wearing, won a strong 42 per cent (10.4 million votes). ... Pezeshkian will be hoping that a drive to persuade young people that their votes can make a difference will push him over the line. ... A reformist victory will not change Iran overnight. But even if Pezeshkian does not win, the election is an important straw in the wind. Under the surface a new, democratic Iran is building. Its time may be coming.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

The West must up the pressure

Looking on from the sidelines and hoping for the best is not enough, Der Spiegel comments:

“The Iranian system can't be changed from the inside. It needs pressure from outside. ... Those who want to push for change need to set their sights on the elites of the Islamic Republic. Imposing sanctions is not enough, they need to be implemented. The West's feeble sanction regime is seen as a sign of weakness in Iran. In the Islamic Republic politics is all about a show of strength. If on 5 July the majority of Iranians withhold their vote in protest against the regime, the West should see this as a sign – and give its backing to the Iranian people.”