Thursday , 29 July 2021

Dispatch from Tehran: “These Aren’t Elections. They Can Get Lost”

Iranwire – On Friday, June 18 both the presidential “election” and municipal council elections are due to be held on the same day in Iran. Opposition members inside and outside the country have called on social media for a boycott of the vote. To try to gauge public mood on the ground, IranWire’s citizen journalist visited a park east of Tehran and asked people about their voting intentions.

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The disqualification of both presidential candidates and candidates for Iran’s city and village councils has been more widespread than usual in 2021. As a result, the mood on the eve of elections is tepid at best.

On a hot day east of the Iranian capital, I spoke to 50 people in a local park. Just two of them said that they planned to cast a vote on Friday. This was not a scientific poll, but it did support the predictions that the Islamic Republic will see a significant decline in turnout this year compared to previous votes.

The first person I encountered, Mr. Hasanian, said he was 22 years old when the Islamic Revolution took place. “We thought the country was moving toward peace and tranquillity,” he said. “But from the outset, everyone was there to fill their own pockets, and no-one was working for the sake of God. That’s why I won’t participate anymore.”

Others were blunter about their reasons for not participating. “I don’t like the regime”, “I don’t know who any of them are” and “Everything they’ve said so far has been a lie” were the next three replies.

Mina and Homa, sitting together on a bench, also had no intention to take part. “We’re protesting the situation in the country,” they told me, “and to participate would be a betrayal of the country.”

The boycott seemed to extend across all age and class groups, from retirees to would-be first-time voters. A middle-aged couple told me they’d had enough of “dictatorship” and felt the “republican” aspect of the Islamic Republic had been lost.

An elderly, veiled woman and three old men also confirmed they would not be casting a vote on Friday. One of the latter said the candidates had “no knowledge or authority” and in any event, the president is only able to act with the assent of the Supreme Leader.

Many Tehran residents said it would make no difference whether they voted or not. “After voting did nothing for us in previous terms,” a young man, Pouyan, told me, “why should we vote now? The only outcome has been high prices.”

“I definitely won’t be voting,” said another man, who asked to be named as Mohsen. “There is no election; it’s a nonsense. I don’t accept Islam at all, let alone the mullahs.”

“These are appointments, not elections,” an elderly man said. “We do not accept the Islamic Republic and the president has already been decided on. This system has no legitimacy. This system has never been, and will never be chosen, by the people. They can get lost.”

The next boycotting citizen, Mr. Pourkazemi, was just as firm. “I have not voted once in the past 40 years and I will not vote now. I will only ever vote on the existence or non-existence of this regime. To vote now would be to approve this regime. So I will not.”

Over the course of an entire day, just two people told me that they planned to vote. One was a middle-aged man out walking with his wife, who said he would go to the polls “because I love my country” even though his wife was boycotting it.

The other was a woman named Ms. Hasana, who told me: “I am voting for a better society and to resolve unemployment. I have hope for the future. I will vote for Mr. Raeesi in order to eliminate class gap in society and prevent the rich from becoming richer.”

This article was written by a citizen journalist in Karaj under a pseudonym.

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