Iran: what to expect from President Pezeshkian?

Masoud Pezeshkian, who is widely seen as a moderate reformer, has been elected as Iran's new president. Before entering politics Pezeshkian was a doctor and heart surgeon, and then health minister under former president Mohammad Khatami between 2001 and 2005. Both politicians stand for the desire for reform and improved relations with the West. Nevertheless, Europe's press sees little hope of real change.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable

La Repubblica explains why Pezeshkian garnered so many votes:

“The fear of an authoritarian course has led many to vote for this doctor from Mahabad in northwest Iran - son of an Azeri father and Kurdish mother - who has managed to mobilise the often forgotten minorities in the conflict with the central power. He is not a particularly charismatic leader but he was never been tainted by allegations of corruption, and this, together with a certain sensitivity to the needs of the most vulnerable as a doctor working in provincial clinics, has earned him many people's sympathy. He was backed by historical reformists such as Khatami and Karroubi but played more the the role of a balancing centrist.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Little room for manoeuvre

According to The Financial Times no major changes can be expected in terms of domestic and foreign policy:

“He is very much a regime loyalist who has made clear his obedience to Khamenei. And hardliners can be expected to resist reform. The US and major European powers will not be easily persuaded to soften their approach to the regime. Experience has made them deeply sceptical of any potential shift away from Iran's belligerent backing of militant groups, domestic crackdowns and expansion of its nuclear programme. The election will not alter Tehran's support for regional proxies, considered vital to the republic's security strategy and overseen by the powerful Revolutionary Guards.” (BG) /

New president won't go against the system

Pezeshkian will have to subordinate himself to the powers that be, predicts:

“The new Iranian president will have to deal with an institutional structure dominated by the hardliners in the Majles – the Iranian parlament – the National Security Council and the ayatollah himself. This is a power structure in which Pezeshkian can never gain the upper hand. Throughout Iranian history, the president has always lost the power struggle with the supreme leader, as the experiences of the reformer Mohammad Khatami, the hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the moderate Hassan Rouhani show. During the election campaign, Pezeshkian repeatedly emphasised that he would adhere to the political framework determined by the system.”