Voices of Iranians ahead of presidential election

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

Mr Raisi is seen as the preferred choice of the powerful security establishment, advocating a more self-sufficient "resistance economy" rather than a reliance on foreigners.

Reihane Taravati, a 26-year-old who was among several Iranians arrested in 2014 for participating in an online video set to Pharrell Williams' hit summer anthem "Happy", credited Rouhani with securing her release after he tweeted, "Happiness is our people's right". But it wasn't us who gave boys and girls freedom.

But hardline rivals hammered Rouhani over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions, even after most were rescinded following the nuclear agreement.

Inflation has dropped to single digits but unemployment is still rising.

Seeking a second term, Rohani remains the narrow favorite. "The result depends on whether the economic problems will prevail over freedom issues", said an official close to Rouhani. Eventually, the tensions eased and many members of OPEC as well as non-cartel countries in November past year agreed on a six-month accord to slash output to 1.8 million barrels a day, but with Iran exempt from the final deal.

Incomes have stagnated or fallen, youth unemployment is 26 per cent, and many people have lost faith in Rouhani. "Not anymore", he said.

- We will establish diplomatic relations with other countries based on dignity. Though economic growth is strong in real terms, analysis from RBC Capital Markets found Rouhani's critics pointing to potential that's failed to deliver.

"I am disappointed with Rouhani".

"The people of Iran shall once again announce that they don't approve of those who only called for executions and jail throughout the last 38 years", he said recently, referring to the 1979 revolution.

Low turnout in 2005 handed the election to conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"But he is way ahead of Raisi".

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"I predict a record participation rate".

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.

A high turnout could also boost the chances of Rouhani, who was swept to power in 2013 on promises to reduce Iran's worldwide isolation and grant more freedoms at home. You want to have business companies?

Ghasemi said Iran would retaliate by adding nine United States individuals and companies to its own sanctions list, accusing them of "clear violations of human rights" in relation to their support for Israel or "terrorist groups" in the Middle East. Some critics say this is created to protect politically connected domestic businesses.

While the reformists won't vote for Raisi, many may not bother to vote at all.

On the eve of the Iranian presidential "elections", 156 members of the European Parliament issued a joint statement (attached) and declared: "The elections in Iran are not free and fair". He asked his supporters to vote for the 56-year-old principlist candidate. "We look at actions", said Jubeir, repeating allegations about Iran's "aggressive" behaviour in the Middle East.

Or, rather, most of those 55 million people will vote and many will not because there is great disillusionment with President Hassan Rouhani who promised to improve the economy, and also with the global treaty on curbing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions that was supposed to bring back prosperity.

Iranians head to the polls Friday for a vote that has become a referendum on President Hassan Rouhani's policy of opening up to the world and efforts to rebuild the stagnant economy.

Tehran in turn says Riyadh supports radical Islamist groups.

"We believe that this summit is going to focus the world's attention on the need to work together in partnership in order to defeat the scourge of terrorism and the ideology behind it", Jubeir said.

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