July 25, 2021

In Iran, a first soft and blind presidential debate in the face of economic problems

The economy, supposed to be the main subject of the first debate of the Iranian presidential campaign, Saturday June 5, was finally rarely mentioned. For three hours, the seven candidates, including five ultraconservatives and two reformers, have almost all the time ignored the economic questions posed by the presenter, to engage in settling of scores between the two camps.

Main targets of these attacks: reform candidate and former central bank governor, Abdolnaser Hemmati, and outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani, who is completing his second and final term. “If I become president, I will prohibit Mr. Hemmati and some government leaders from leaving the country and bring them to justice, as economic disruptors”, thus threatened the ex-commander of the Revolutionary Guards, the ultra-conservative Mohsen Rezaï, during this first televised debate.

A figure unknown to the public, Mr. Hemmati does not seem, for the moment, capable of mobilizing voters. The favorite candidate seems, to date, to be the head of justice, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi. The other ultraconservative candidates will, in all likelihood, withdraw shortly before the ballot in favor of this Shiite cleric.

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Inflation (40%) and high unemployment (12.4%, a figure surely underestimated), the fall of the Iranian currency, the rial (86% in two years), were repeatedly mentioned by these candidates. ultra-conservative to encourage voters to vote for their side.

President Rouhani’s first term (2013-2017) was marked by a relative improvement in the country’s economic situation, thanks in particular to the signing of the agreement on Tehran’s nuclear issue with the international community in 2015. Gold Washington’s unilateral exit from the “deal” in 2018, the return of US sanctions against Iran, the mismanagement of leaders and endemic corruption dealt a heavy blow to this economic recovery. Hence the virulent attacks of the conservatives.

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An abstention which promises to be very high

The two reformist candidates concentrated their attacks on the Shiite cleric Ebrahim Raïssi. “With only six years of study at school, how are you going to run the country? Would you agree to entrust your family to a religious driver who does not have a license for a trip? “, asked former vice-president Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh. Ebrahim Raïssi, who at first tried to keep calm, accused his opponent of “Defamation”. “The certificate of my studies is available. Are you not tired of insulting and defaming? “, he retorted, raising his voice.

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