Masoud Pezeshkian: The Heart Surgeon Who Became Iran's New President

Masoud Pezeshkian emerged victorious over Saeed Jalili in the run-off election held following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in May.

Following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Masoud Pezeshkian has been elected as Iran’s new president. The 69-year-old heart surgeon and lawmaker emerged victorious over Saeed Jalili, securing more than 16 million votes in a closely contested run-off.

From Surgeon to President

Masoud Pezeshkian was born on September 29, 1954, in Mahabad, northwestern Iran. His father was ethnically Azeri, and his mother was Kurdish, giving him a unique perspective on Iran’s diverse ethnic landscape. Fluent in Azeri, Pezeshkian has long been an advocate for Iran’s minority ethnic groups.

During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Pezeshkian served as both a combatant and physician, overseeing the deployment of medical teams to the front lines. His medical career advanced as he became a renowned heart surgeon and later headed the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences.

Personal Tragedy and Political Ascent

Pezeshkian’s life took a tragic turn in 1994 when a car accident claimed the lives of his wife, Fatemeh Majidi, and one of his daughters. He never remarried and raised his remaining three children alone. This personal loss profoundly shaped his outlook and resilience.

Transitioning into politics, Pezeshkian initially served as Iran’s deputy health minister before being appointed as health minister during President Mohammad Khatami’s reformist administration from 2001 to 2005. His tenure was marked by significant struggles between reformists and hard-liners, including his involvement in the autopsy of Zahra Kazemi, a journalist who died in custody under suspicious circumstances.

A Centrist Reformist with Independent Streak

Elected as a lawmaker in 2006, Pezeshkian represented Tabriz and later served as deputy parliament speaker. Though often seen as an independent, he supported reformist and moderate causes. His independent stance was a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.

Pezeshkian’s complex relationship with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard includes instances of praise and criticism. He honoured the Guard by wearing its uniform in parliament and lauded their actions against American forces, yet he also called for clarification on controversial issues like the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked widespread protests.

Vision for Iran

Pezeshkian’s election comes at a pivotal time for Iran. With voter turnout at 49.8%, his victory reflects a divided yet hopeful electorate. He has promised to address domestic issues and foster unity while maintaining a strong stance on international matters.

As Pezeshkian assumes office, Iran watches closely to see how his background as a heart surgeon and his centrist reformist policies will shape the nation’s future. His journey from the medical field to the highest political office underscores a life dedicated to service and resilience.