Who is reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, Iran's next president?

He defeated hardliner Saeed Jalili in the second round of elections

Iran president-elect Masoud Pezeshkian Iranian reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian | AFP

By defeating hardliner Saeed Jalili, reformist Masoud Pezeshkian emerged victorious in the Iran presidential election. Pezeshkian urged the people to stick with him on "the difficult road ahead". Pezeshkian winning the elections is likely to be welcomed by world leaders as he is believed to pursue peaceful ways amid tensions in the Middle East. 

"Dear people of Iran, the election is over, and this is just the beginning of our working together. A difficult road is ahead. It can only be smooth with your cooperation, empathy and trust," Pezeshkian said in a post on social media platform X. 

"I extend my hand to you and swear on my honour that I will not abandon you on this path. Do not abandon me," he added. 

Following the historically low turnout in the presidential election on June 28, a runoff election was declared. There was a voter turnout of almost 50 per cent in Friday’s vote. 

Who is Masoud Pezeshkian? 

Pezeshkian, 69, a cardiac surgeon, is known to be a reformist and a moderate. His views offer a contrast to that of former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May. 

Being Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's protege, Raisi tightened enforcement of a law curbing women's dress code. He also adopted a firm approach in the currently stalled negotiations with major powers, aiming to revitalise the nuclear agreement. His steadfast stance sought to reconcile the parties’ differences and pave the way for mutually beneficial outcomes. 

Though the president's role is limited as shots are called by the Supreme Leader on matters regarding top affairs, Pezeshkian vowed to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalisation and political pluralism.

It is, however, to be noted that Iran's ultimate authority is Supreme Leader Khamenei. 

With the support of the urban middle class and the young, Pezeshkian managed to win with a constituency. The recent security crackdowns that restrained any public dissent from Islamic orthodox had widely affected the people of Iran. 

During the row over Mahsa Amini's death in 2022, Pezeshkian demanded clarification from authorities about her death. Amini had died in custody after she was arrested for allegedly violating the law restricting women's dress. 

"We will respect the hijab law, but there should never be any intrusive or inhumane behaviour toward women," Pezeshkian said after casting his vote in the first round.

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Pezeshkian, a combatant and physician, was tasked with the deployment of medical teams to the front lines.

He was health minister from 2001-5 in former president Muhammad Khatami's second term.

Pezeshkian lost his wife and one of his children in a car accident in 1994. He raised his surviving two sons and a daughter alone. 


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp