It is time for Iran to choose the next President as polls are scheduled for May 19, Friday and incumbent Hassan Rouhani faces challenge in the form of Conservative Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric and judge. Although Iran in the past has witnessed that every president wins teh re-election, and it might be a similar case for Rouhani, but there are a few challenges which he faces that might break the pattern of Iran’s presidential election. Also Read - Twitter Suspends Account of Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei For Tweet Against Trump
Rouhani has been credited with large scale economic development, but at the same time, it is economy which might be the bane of his hopes of a second term as the President. He is also deemed responsible for the nuclear deal that Iran struck with the world powers. As per FirstPost, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the scrapping of a few economic sanctions on them. Also Read - I Don't Trust Them: Iran's Supreme Leader Orders Ban on Coronavirus Vaccines from US, Britain
The above arrangement hence facilitated export of oil to Europe. But according to some, the profit of such business boom are yet to be felt by majority of the people of Iran. And that is what Raisi picked up and used it against Rouhani. Also Read - Iranian Instagram Sensation ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’ Freed From Prison on Bail Days After 10 Year Sentence
In this matter, Raisi has the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Khamenei once criticised Rouhani’s economic policies and state of Iran’s economy. Raisi who is a conservative and was allegedly involved in a mass execution in 1988, also reportedly has the support of two clerical bodies,which has major influence on voters. These bodies also apparently declined to endorse any candidate in the last presidential election.
According to a data in Al Jazeera, Rouhani reportedly brought down inflation from 40 percent in 2013 to a mere 6.5 percent. the FirstPost report also suggested that Iran also registered a 12.5 percent growth under the reign of Rouhani. but then again figures like the unemployment rates does in a way go against this jolly figures of inflation and growth, as reports claim that 21.8 percent male and 10.4 percent female are still unemployed. The youth unemployment rate is 30 percent. And Raisi did not leave any chance to bash Rouhani in the presidential debates while mentioning this slow economic growth.
Moreover, Raisi has promised to provide the poor of the country with a monthly allowance which is equivalent to $65. As per FP, it is about one-sixth of what any menial laborer makes in a month. In this regard, many political experts are worried that the promise of money might influence the voters in the polls. Reformist-Activist Mostafa Tajzadeh was quoted by FP, saying that although he is worried that promise of cash might influence the poor and unemployed voters, he also points out how the Iranian middle-class and liveral voters are unenthusiastic about the elections.
Apparently, state-run IRNA News agency came up with a report according to which around 2,000 eligible voters said that they will not participate in the polls. And this can mean that perhaps low voter turn out will be another challenge which Rouhani will face.
The major disappointment among most of Rouhani’s supporters seems to be unemployment. No matter what the figures suggest, the people are clearly not happy with the way the economy is being managed and this will impact incumbent Rouhani’s hopes of second term.
Apart from all of this, in a major protest launched by the Kurdish women and minority rights activists on social networking platform, they have requested the Kurds to refrain from voting and instead leave the town on the day of polls. This was their stand against the regime which they termed ‘misogynistic’ and uncaring about the minorities and their rights.
Kurdish Women in their appeal said that their gender, religion and ethnicity did not allow them to run for prominent managerial positions in Iran, and this was one of the primary reasons they called for boycotting the polls. They also stated how none of the six presidential candidate in the presidential debates talked about the discrimination faced by women and the other minorities within the country.
In times like this, now the biggest question will be if the voters do not vote, and those who do are influenced by the promises of money, will Iran stand as a democracy? Will Rouhani get another chance to prove his efficiency? or Conservative Raisi will take over and as speculated by many experts, impact the nuclear deal and peace in West Asia?
Time will tell, indeed.