Iran's Supreme Leader Calls For High Turnout In Presidential Vote

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

Polling stations for the 12th presidential election, the 5th City and Village Councils elections, and the Parliament's mid-term elections will open across Iran at 8 a.m. Friday.

- They (the Rouhani administration) say they have provided villages with Internet connection. It's up to us to whip up excitement.

"We have seen Iran's record of aggression increase not decrease" since the nuclear pact, Jubeir said, citing the country's support for "terrorism" and efforts to destabilise other countries.

Key sanctions have been lifted and tens of billions of dollars in assets unlocked but many ordinary Iranians have been disappointed with the results.

Has Rouhani succeeded in reforming Iran?

Even before becoming President of the Islamic Republic, Rouhani's previous career is also as far away from moderate as is possible. We faced harsh sanctions.

"At the moment, we know that (the U.S. President Donald) Trump wants to get rid of it, but he can not, because Iran has not violated the deal. and it has done all its obligations", the expert said. But he has previously invested little political capital in opposing censorship or advancing women's rights, for example. This time he's using the same playbook in the face of a growing conservative challenge.

The "street concert", run by supporters of hardliner candidate Ibrahim Raisi was held in the area of Yousef Abad in Tehran where loud, thumping with music is played by a live DJ.

It is generally assumed, however, that he supports Raisi, who is best known as one of the four Islamic judges who ordered the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. He's never been elected to office, but is backed by the clerical establishment, an important endorsement. As the campaigning came to an end there was an intervention by the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday.

Other reformist figures have lined up behind Rouhani, including former President Mohammed Khatami, who is still popular among more liberal Iranians. And Raisi did not leave any chance to bash Rouhani in the presidential debates while mentioning this slow economic growth. The relationship between them, however, has not been as stormy as might have been expected.

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"However, if the radical contestant of him, Mr. Raisi, wins, it would be a step backward", said Zibakalam.

HAMIDEN ASHOURI, Rouhani Supporter (through interpreter): America is bad, but it's not all bad.

Why? Because it defied the United States and got away with it.

The department also announced the imposition of new unrelated sanctions against Iranian defence officials and an Iranian "entity".

MOHAMMAD MARANDI, Political Analyst: They have not abided by their side of the bargain. "If I have failed to deliver on some of my promises, it is because they (the hard-liners) have prevented me from doing so".

Iran started to ramp up oil production after USA -led sanctions were lifted in January 2016.

Yet his conservative challengers have put up a stronger fight than many expected. People are able to gather, demonstrate, and chant slogans, even slogans that were very taboo just eight years ago. Now, campaign posters show the black-turbaned Raisi alongside Qalibaf in a yellow safety helmet, trying to appeal both to religious groups and pragmatists.

REZA SAYAH: Three out of 10 young Iranians don't have jobs. Rouhani's problem is that nothing much has changed in the economy either. Some, especially the rural poor, have welcomed Raisi's approach.

As for Iran's regional policies, the Iranian expert said that "Raisi won't do much about the normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia, and at least will not create a condition that the animosity between Riyadh and Tehran not to increase". And Maloney says that if re-elected, Rouhani may try to lure European and Asian investment in the face of a U.S. administration intent on putting greater pressure on Iran. Without the Western money, without the Western banking system, nothing, nothing can possibly function within this country. Every Iranian president since 1981 has secured a second term.

But apathetic Iranians, many disillusioned by Rouhani's inability to usher in social change, make up a third category of voter.

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