Internet InfoMedia iran voters face stark choice in competitive presidential runoff
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For the first time in years, the outcome is difficult to predict, and could be decided by how many people end their boycotts and participate in the vote.

One pledged he would confront Iran’s enemies, the other vowed to make peace with the world. One intends to double down on social restrictions, the other promises to ease stifling rules for young people and women. One identifies as an Islamic ideologue, the other as a pragmatic reformist.

Iranians were voting for the country’s next president on Friday in a race that has turned into a fierce competition and where, for the first time in more than a decade, the outcome is difficult to predict.

The runoff on Friday, between the ultraconservative Saeed Jalili and reformist the Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian, is taking place after a general election last week failed to produce a candidate with the required 50 percent of the vote.

The result may hinge on how many Iranians who sat out the vote in the general election decide to participate in the runoff. Turnout was at a record low of 40 percent last week, with the majority of Iranians boycotting the vote out of anger at the government or alienation and apathy over the failure of previous governments to produce meaningful changes.

Voters face a choice between two starkly different outlooks on how to govern the country as it faces a multitude of challenges at home and abroad. The two candidates represent polar ends of the political spectrum: Mr. Jalili is a hard-liner known for his dogmatic ideas, while Dr. Pezeshkian has gained traction among voters by calling for moderation in both foreign and domestic policy.

Saeed Jalili, the ultraconservative presidential candidate, waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Wednesday, the last day of campaigning before Friday’s runoff election.Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

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