Iranian presidential candidates square off in last debate before runoff vote

The two presidential hopefuls vying for the office in Iran’s runoff vote sought to woo more voters in their second and final televised debate aired from the state television (IRIB) on Tuesday evening.

Reformist Massoud Pezeskhian and principlist Saeed Jalili, who garnered the highest number of votes in the first round but failed to secure the absolute majority, highlighted their economic plans in the debate.

Their discussions centered mainly on sanctions and strategies to lift or ease them, economic growth, subsidies, housing, stock market, and employment among others.

During the debate, which at times got heated, Pezeshkian repeated his view that sanctions have negatively affected Iran’s economy and that the upcoming administration should sit at the negotiating table to ease the punitive measures.

Jalili, however, believes that the West has proven an unreliable negotiating party and said he would rather find a way to sidestep the sanctions, instead of catering to the Western demands.

The former top nuclear negotiator also rejected widespread accusations that his “failed strategies” were the main reason that the West unleashed the torrent of sanctions on Iran.

Both candidates accused each other of lacking a vision and plan for the problems that plague the country’s ailing economy. People’s livelihood amid the economic hardships came up several times during the show.

Pezeshkian promised to do his utmost to tackle the issues but admitted that without the required resources, no government could solve the problems.

Iranians at home and abroad will go to the runoff polls on Friday to elect a successor to the late Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash on May 19.

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