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Will Pezeshkian's Candidacy Spark Azeri and Kurdish Support?

June 12, 2024
Ebrahim Ramezani
4 min read
In the elections for the Parliament in March, widely boycotted across the country, Pezeshkian came in second in his constituency
In the elections for the Parliament in March, widely boycotted across the country, Pezeshkian came in second in his constituency

Since the eligibility of Masoud Pezeshkian to run in the presidential election was confirmed, some believe that his background - being born in Mahabad, continuing his university education in Tabriz, and serving as a five-term MP from the constituencies of Tabriz, Azarshahr, and Osku - gives him a greater chance of winning the votes of Azeri and Kurdish citizens compared to other candidates.

"I am not voting for Dr Pezeshkian because I am a Turk, but because if he is elected, he will be the president of the oppressed and discriminated minority of this country," Zahra Shahrood, a resident of Zanjan told IranWire.

"Maybe if there were a candidate with similar qualities from the Baluch or Kurdish communities, I would definitely vote for them too, because our pain is common in this land - the pain of discrimination," she added.

Edris, a citizen from Bukan, believes that candidates who pass through the system's filter are merely successors of the current government: "I have no hope of change, that's why I'm not voting."

He told IranWire, "I got my bachelor's degree 20 years ago. I have a shop now, a job that I could have had if I hadn't gone to university. Being Turk or Kurdish does not affect my vote. In general, I consider my miserable situation to be the result of the policies of all officials, some of whom are now candidates."

Mustafa, from Tabriz, also indicated he would not participate in the elections. He told IranWire, "I am 40 years old, and this is the situation in a city represented by doctors. Why should we fool ourselves that he is different? I believe that someone different can't survive in politics unless he is a regime person."

In the elections for the Parliament in March, widely boycotted across the country, Pezeshkian came in second in his constituency.

Sayyad, originally from Shabestar and living in Tabriz, says: "Although I have no intention to participate in the elections, many friends and acquaintances who previously said they would never participate in any elections are now enthusiastic after Pezeshkian's eligibility was confirmed and say they will vote for him."

After registering for this period's presidential elections, Pezeshkian said: "I entered the elections to help foster passionate participation."

Hossein from Urmia said: "I voted for Hemmati in the last election and I will definitely vote for Pezeshkian this time. At the very least, I think he doesn't lie like everyone else."

In response to whether Pezeshkian's Azeri Turk background affects his decision, he says: "If he were a non-Turkish candidate, I would not vote."

Pezeshkian has often supported the Turk language and issues related to the Tractor FC football team and Lake Urmia.

The virality of Pezeshkian's words on social networks may indeed boost enthusiasm and excitement among ethnic groups, potentially increasing voter participation.

However, most people who spoke to IranWire expressed that after the massive protests of recent years and the severe repression of demonstrators, they no longer hope for change through elections.

Ebrahim Savalan, an Azeri writer and civic activist, wrote on his Facebook account after the approval of Pezeshkian's qualifications and the reaction of the Turks: "A passionate public atmosphere has formed in favor of Dr. Pezeshkian.

"In just a few hours, nearly five public meetings have been held in support of him in Meshkin. Educators and teachers have also coordinated a large public meeting, and the political activists of the city are coordinating to divide the work of the headquarters among themselves - even those who didn't want to vote until a few days ago."

Reza Talebi, a researcher at Leipzig University and a Turk political analyst, said in an interview with IranWire about the approval of Pezeshkian's qualifications: "Dr. Pezeshkian was previously disqualified in the parliamentary elections, and Khamenei said that it should be reconsidered."

"To confirm his qualification in the presidential elections, it was Ali Khamenei's request to increase participation in the elections."

This researcher told IranWire about the increase in turnout in elections among Turks: "It can be said that the ethnic issue is effective in increasing participation, for example, the Turk/Persian issue can increase participation, and Khamenei himself wants this.

"The government has approved a candidate who can be the candidate of ethnic groups, religious minorities, reforms, groups close to Larijani and Ahmadinejad who have issues with the government, moderates, and some fundamentalists. Naturally, this increases the participation rate."

Sajjad Mirzapour, a sociologist from Tabriz, said in an interview with IranWire: "It was expected that qualified candidates or the ideal candidate would be the common denominator of the IRGC and Khamenei's office. Pezeshkian is not close to either of these institutions."

He also commented on the possibility of increased participation among Turks: "Turk civil society has been practically excluded from decision-making and political participation in recent years. I think that Pezeshkian can motivate Turks to vote, regardless of their political orientation."

Babak Chalebiani, an Azeri political activist, referring to the establishment trick to increase turnout, said: "With the fading discourse of reforms and the confirmation of Pezeshkian's qualifications by the Guardian Council for the presidential elections in Iran, the regime intends to create artificial competition centered on Khorasan and Azerbaijan to bring people to the polls."



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