As Iranians go to the ballot box to vote in two major elections Friday, many young Iranians are taking to social media to echo reformist leader Mohammad Khatami’s call to vote for every single candidate on the reformists’ lists – meaning, even those they might hate.
Indeed, since many of the reformists’ candidates were disqualified, a coalition has been formed in order to include centrist candidates - though some have in fact been described as hardliners - on their lists. These candidates are socially conservative but support President Hassan Rohani's reformist policies, notably with regards to international relations and economic reforms.
Iranians will cast ballots for their 290 new members of parliament as well as 88 new clergy for the Assembly of Experts, which appoints the new Supreme Leader when he dies. Both are currently controlled by conservatives, but reformists hope to make significant gains.
To achieve this goal, Khatami released a video in which he exhorted voters to be pragmatic: “Everybody who is concerned about reforming the country, vote for every name on both [reformist] lists. I repeat: every name on both lists.”
Supporters of his message quickly turned it into a rap and spread it on social networks:
Baran Kosari, a famous Iranian actress, also lip-synced Khatami’s speech via the app Dubsmash, which is popular with young Iranians. At the end of the video, she opens her hand, revealing the inscription “30 + 16” written on her palm. This refers to the 30 names on the reformists’ list for parliament and the 16 names on their list for assembly of experts, both in the Tehran district.
Khatami’s “I repeat” line has been widely quoted, like in this photo that a voter posted to Facebook after casting his ballot. “I repeat” is written on his finger, and all candidates on both of the reformists’ lists have been checked off.
Many people also used humour to sweeten the bitter pill of voting for some candidates they hate – if, of course, they decide to follow Khatami’s advice.
In this widely-shared meme, the captions read:
“Yes - all the people, on all of the lists.”
In this one, they’ve used a scene from the Iranian film “About Elly”:
“WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?!”
This meme uses a singer and a judge in Iran’s version of “The Voice”. Context: fans of the show suspect that the judge has a bit of a crush on this singer.
“I can’t vote for Raishahri…”
“OK… I’m voting for everybody on both lists!”