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Iran's Next President And What Awaits Him

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran
Photos: Iranian Students News Agency

Suddenly in Iran there is election fever and posters are everywhere.  After all the fuss, the Iranian presidential election will take place in a few days and one of the eight approved candidates will become Iran's next president. However, as presidents in Iran technically fulfill a role which is mostly ceremonial, one wonders what the entire hubbub is about?  Each candidate tries hard to get his message to his audience by big billboards, stickers and posters, all of which look quite well done. Yet Iran is different in so many ways. When in the mid seventies I returned home with my degrees in economics and computing, I discovered that what I had learned at my universities abroad had to be modified and adapted to fit the local customs and norms here. There and then I learned that sometimes this adaptation and modification is possible and sometimes it is not. 

Everybody talks about the forthcoming election these days, and as I am a curious person, whenever I am in taxis, or meetings or even in the street, I ask people what they think about the election, who they will vote for, and their reasons.  Generally speaking, the more westernized and business oriented people tend to hope that Mr. Rafsanjani, former president and head of the Expediency Council will win.  As far as students are concerned, many in private universities support him; this support drops drastically among students in national and more technical universities.  Many think that if Mr. Rafsanjani wins there will be a more open and liberal atmosphere socially and business-wise.

Some ordinary, working people have told me that when Mr. Ghalibaff, the former Chief of Police, close to the Supreme leader and conservatives, announced his candidacy, they became hopeful and decided to take part in the election; because, as chief of police, he had done a lot of good deeds and people had taken note. This group believes that Mr. Ghalibaff is strong, good, honest and dedicated, comes from the people and works for them.  Some think that a president should not have a military background at all; but many others believe that we need a strong military man with the proper discipline to put things right here.  He is firm yet gentle, and in his posters he has addressed the youth. They are so very positive and full of life and colorful pictures of male youth. The only shortcoming is that the posters, although they are the most inspirational of the lot, do not show any Iranian young women!

Mr. Moin, a former Education Minister and the head of the Reformist platform, has stronger support among women and technocrats.  He chose Mrs. Elahe Koulaie to be his spokesperson, an act which makes him more favorable to women voters.  About two weeks ago, National Television, at the last minute withdrew an invitation to her to take part in a presidential candidates' debate.  It seemed that some of the other candidates did not wish to discuss important issues with a woman.  But shortcomings also exist in Mr. Moin's headquarters.  His campaign team had invited many socially active women, with about a week's notice, to hear their points of view and their expectations from the future president.  Yet they forgot to inform Mrs. Koulaie until a couple of hours before the meeting, by which time she was miles away from Tehran!  A good intention, but spoiled by disorganization and muddle.


As for young people, those who are more educated are more likely to take part in the election - indeed many regard it a civil duty.  Among the older people, many in the modern-traditionalist, middle and lower middle class, as well as many traditional groups will vote - more men than women.  However, many, of all age groups, simply laugh, when I ask them if they will be voting.  I expect that the turnout will not be as high as it was during the last election.  But this is Iran and anything can happen, one can never know. So I guess my friend is right who said Iranians will, no doubt, exercise their collective wisdom and do what is right. They have done it before and will do so again.

The new president with his ministers must work hard in order to bring prosperity to the Iranians. This is what all presidential candidates seem to agree with and to hope for.  Whoever becomes the president, with his team- the new government- as a priority must work with other pillars of power, national institutions and the 7th Majlis (parliament) to make out most efforts and work towards effective and essential polices:

       Overcome the debilitating unemployment, and creating about a million genuine new jobs annually, with its positive consequences for the economy and the country

       Reduce the very high interest rates which have crippled investment which has in turn slowed down the economy.

       Conquer the high inflation that has made most people's life so unbearable and find ways to update and modernize labor, employment and business laws.

       Reduce bureaucracy and red tape and streamline governmental procedures drastically and quickly

       Rigorously pursue policies to deal with the extensive corruption

       Encourage real, rather than pretend, privatizations, to allow true competition to be exercised in a true open market; and invite industries, old and new, to Iran with a hands-off approach but with high vision and goals (like MITI in Japan).

       Strive for a fairer distribution of wealth that has made Iran into a divergent country, where a tiny minority of the total population controls and enjoys most of the nation's wealth.  

       Seek the cooperation of all powerful bodies, bringing modern managerial techniques and approaches in order to implement the needed changes to modernize and make the necessary and crucial policies workable. This needs a lot of courage and the political will to achieve without fear of upsetting a few individuals or organizations, in order to achieve a better life for us all.

       The new president and his Ministers above all are transparent and honest with the people.  If they truly work for the people, then whatever platform they may be from, they will be supported and accepted by the people, Enshaallah (Amen)!



... Payvand News - 6/14/05 ... --

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