Three young Iranians share their election hopes - and fears

 A day before Iran’s presidential election, two young Iranians explain which of the candidates they plan to vote for, and what issues they hope the candidates will tackle. A third explains why he won’t vote at all.


Supporters of candidate Hassan Rowhani in Tehran on Wednesday.



A day before Iran’s presidential election, two young Iranians explain which of the candidates they plan to vote for, and what issues they hope the candidates will tackle. A third explains why he won’t vote at all.


Iranians are getting ready to vote Friday for one of six candidates, all of whom have been carefully vetted by the Guardian Council. In the past few days, momentum has been growing for Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric who is gaining popularity among reformist voters in the absence of any clearly reformist candidates. The only reformist candidate in the race, Mohammad Reza Aref, dropped out on Tuesday in order to leave room for Rowhani.


Rowhani faces serious competition from young, charismatic hardliners like Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

“If Jalili becomes president, our country’s situation could become unimaginably worse”

Shabnam is a political activist who identifies as part of the opposition “Green Movement”, born during the 2009 election.


I wanted to vote for Abkar Hachemi Rafsanjani [a reformist who served as president from 1989 to 1997; this time, he was disqualified by the Guardian Council]. So now I don’t know if I will vote. When Rafsanjani made his bid for president, it gave everyone a little hope because life was better in his era. His disqualification was a great shock. Among the ‘principalists’ [conservative candidates], Ali-Akbar Velayati does not seem that bad. He is more moderate compared to other principalist candidates and seems to be a better manager. [He served as foreign minister from 1981 to 1997].


For me, one of the most important issues in this election is that with our catastrophic economic situation, which worsens by the day, I’m worried that if a staunch conservative like Saeed Jalili becomes president, it could become unimaginably worse.


“One must not forget that there is still the possibility of vote rigging, but this does not mean we should sit by idly”


Our economic situation is very bad. The middle class in Iran is disappearing, and many people I know haven’t received their wages in months. On top of this, there is a heavy security atmosphere that makes it hard to breathe here. Therefore I want the next president, whomever he is, to make his priorities fixing the economic situation and putting an end to this police state.


One must not forget that there is still the possibility of vote rigging, but this does not mean we should sit by idly. Even if they throw us out the door, we come back through the window, which is a victory in and of itself. I am sure that one day they will have to bow down to our vote.


“Iran will have a bright future whether Qalibaf or Jalili become president”

Sadeq Nikou calls himself a ‘prinicipalist’, i.e., conservative, activist.


The election atmosphere this time is different from previous ones, which shows the political maturity of both the people and the candidates. The candidates have no interest in putting up posters and spending a lot of money on their campaigns, and therefore they aren’t indebted to [corporations] or political groups. This austerity is very noticeable in the capital; it’s not a carnival like past elections. The manner of holding presidential elections is unique in Iran and can be a good example for Western and Eastern countries alike.


The face of the city might not show election enthusiasm, but the people are talking about their candidates … in taxis, in the metro, and even while waiting in the line for bread. Watching election programs on TV is a priority for the people, and even satellite channels [which are officially illegal in Iran] have been forced to show them, which adds to the election enthusiasm and promises a lively turnout.


Conservative candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. 


“Foreign media who say the Leader supports Jalili have their own agendas”


The candidates are all qualified individuals with many positive characteristics. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf’s management abilities, his revolutionary and war-time background, his youth and energy are what set him apart from the other candidates. He has shown faith in the progress of Iran and has many programs to this end.


Saeed Jalili, on the other hand, is a young revolutionary diplomat, and his experience in nuclear negotiations as well as in the programs broadcast on state TV show he is well-versed in the Islamic Revolution dialogue. He is reminiscent of the early revolution officials.


I believe Iran can experience a bright future with either of these candidates, and I still haven’t decided which of the two I will vote for.


Many people say the Leader supports Jalili. But he has repeatedly said that nobody knows who his choice is. Such claims are made by foreign media outlets pursuing their own agendas. If the candidate who they claim is the Leader’s favourite wins, they will accuse the Leader and the establishment of meddling with the elections. And if a candidate doesn’t win, they will say his loss was the Leader’s fault and claim it shows the rift between the people and the Leader.

“People don’t care about this election”

Kaveh is boycotting the election.


There was fraud in the last election, and the government has not admitted in any way that this happened. Therefore, I cannot morally bring myself to participate in another election.


There is no reason why they would count our votes this time. I’m sure our votes will be ineffective, because they’ll surely rig the votes even more openly this time around.


Aside from that, all the candidates who managed to pass through the filter of the Guardian Council are very similar to one another. The regime has given people options that are basically just one option; there is no choice between even two different schools of thought.


Pranksters in Qom decorated a trash bin to look like a ballot box. 


“The president isn’t the decision-maker on nuclear issues, so whoever wins won’t be able to do anything about sanctions”


I used to closely follow the political developments in this country but I’ve done so far less this year. All my friends are the same – they also believe the election is not important, and this is why I think the election will be much less than in past elections.


Many people want the next president to improve the country’s economic situation. However, in my opinion, the economic crisis is related to the sanctions, and the sanctions have nothing to do with the president, who is not the decision-maker on the nuclear issue.