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Iran’s Election: The First Controlled Debate

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inspects the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

The first debate of three debates between the six presidential candidates held in a controlled atmosphere. The candidates themselves, who are the present government officials, were careful so the debate remains limited to the economic problems of the country and not on the politics issues.

In Tehran, the television viewers who watched this three hours debates, described it boring and hopeless.

However, the candidates pointed to some of the country’s protracted economic downturn results.

Mirsalim the previous minister said: “many populations of the villages has left and resided in outskirts of the cities. The cities outskirt are officially called “unauthorized settlements”, the majority of them are out of primary city services like electricity, water, and transportation.

Ghalibaf, present mayor of Tehran said the number of the people who live in outskirts is 11 million. Another candidate Ebrahim Raisi (one of the perpetrators of political prisoners’ massacre in 1988) said this data belongs to four years ago and now this number is 16 million.

He also criticized to small government monthly donations that given to public because of subsidies cut. According to him, these donations reached to little more than four dollars a month.

A candidate, Mirsalim drew the attentions to the education and revealed the number of the people who do not have the least educations are 10.2 million.

Jahanghiri who is presently vice president is one of the six candidates. He revealed someone has stolen 3.8 million dollars assets of the government. He did not mention his name, but in comparison to biggest government embezzlement revealed last year, is the highest amount.

Ghalibaf in his turn revealed another statistics that shows the lack of social support for the government: only 4 % are satisfied and 96 % are dissatisfied and do not own anything. His attacks focused on the failure of Rouhani on country’s economy. He asked: last year banks gave $150, 000000 These loans were given to whom?

In reaction to his rivals, Rouhani, blamed Ahmadinezhad’s government record: “during 10 years 6.6 million entered the job market and looking for work, but in that 10 years only 600 jobs were created.”

Candidate reminded Rouhani’s promise for the creation of 4 million jobs and showed he has lied. The debated went little out of monotony but the dialogues remained constant on unimportant economic problems.

Yet another candidate, Hashemi Taba, expressed a glimpse of all the candidates and the government in a statement: housing issue is not the first priority…. Our priority is “preservation of the Islamic Republic.”

Mohammad Amin (@EconomieIran) is a senior research fellow for the Paris-based Foundation d’Etudes pour le Moyen-Orient (FEMO) or Foundation for the Study of the Middle East. He has written several books and essays about the ruling theocracy, the transformation of Iran’s political economy under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East.