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Iran: election to the tunes of referendum

Iranians go to the polls Friday to elect a new president, an election that takes the form of a referendum on the continuation or not of openness to the world, advocated by Hassan Rohani, a candidate in his own succession.

After the withdrawal of most of the six candidates, the presidential election boils down to a face-to-face meeting between Hassan Rohani, 68 years of age, and Ebrahim Raissi, a religious conservative, 56-year-old close to the supreme guide Ali Khamenei who wants to promote the national economy.

The polling stations will open at 08: 00 local (03: 30 GMT) and should close at 18: 00 (13: 30 GMT). The results are not expected before Saturday or Sunday.

The distrust remains

This election, which are being asked to vote 56.4 million voters, takes place two days after the us decision to renew the easing of sanctions against Iran, according to the nuclear deal in 2015 between Tehran and six major powers, including the United States.

Good news for the president Rohani, elected in 2013, who has spent most of his first term of four years to the negotiation of this agreement led to the initiation of the economic liberalisation and politics of his country.

But the mistrust between Tehran and Washington broke their diplomatic relations shortly after the islamic revolution in 1979, remains the same: the maintenance of the nuclear deal was accompanied by new u.s. sanctions related to the ballistic missile program of Iran.

Donald Trump with rivals of Iran

This mistrust is even accentuated after the arrival to power of Donald Trump, who has multiplied declarations to the anti-iranian and have increased the sanctions not linked to nuclear power since January.

Coincidence or not, Donald Trump will attend this weekend at a summit with muslim leaders from around the world in saudi Arabia, the great rival regional of Iran.

Despite the hostility the united states, the ambition of Rohani is to continue opening up to the world to attract more investment, while Raissi wants to defend the more disadvantaged sectors by focusing on “the economy of resistance,” based on the national production.

In addition to the conclusion of the nuclear deal, the outgoing president can claim to have reduced inflation from 40% in 2013, is passed today to 9.5%.

“The hands of strangers”

Without calling into question this agreement, as desired by the supreme leader, Ebrahim Raissi has denounced the lack of results from this compromise that has attracted little investment compared to what had been expected, and has not benefited the most disadvantaged of which he makes himself the advocate.

“Instead of using the capacity of our youth, they (Rohani and his government) put our economy in the hands of foreigners”, has accused Raissi at its last meeting on Wednesday at Machhad (is).

He highlighted the bad unemployment figures (12.5% of the population, 27% of young people), and accused the government of not having acted to “oligarchy”, the “4% richer”.

Participation, the unknown

The big unknown in the election is the participation rate, and number of leaders have called for a massive vote. “American officials, europeans, and those of the zionist regime (of Israel, editor’s note) to monitor our elections to see what will be the level of participation,” said Wednesday, Ali Khamenei.

If this participation is important, their judgment will be different,” because in the face “to the enemies, the people must show a face determined and calm,” he added.

In the popular districts of Tehran were the most affected by unemployment and poverty, rather, it is the demobilization which prevails, because there is little illusions about the changes that could bring the future president, whoever he is.

The poll is coupled to municipal elections: the stakes in the major cities of Tehran, Machhad (est) and Esfahan (centre), is a change from the conservative majority that governs. (afp/nxp)

Created: 19.05.2017, 04h28

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