Iran expert: Election candidates offer no roadmap to solve country’s crises

LONDON: An Iran expert on Wednesday warned that none of the candidates in the country’s presidential election on June 18 offer a route out of its many crises.

Nazila Fathi, an independent journalist and non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, was speaking at an event hosted by Chatham House titled “Iran’s presidential election: Domestic and international implications” and attended by Arab News.

“Coronavirus has really wreaked havoc in Iran. The death tolls are huge. While it’s true that the country started vaccines before the elections, no one knows what shots they’ll get, what the plan is, and how the majority of people under 50 are going to get vaccinated,” she said. “People are traveling out of the country for huge prices to get vaccinated.”

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Iranians have also faced intense political pressure with “the suppressions of 2018 and 2019,” and the regime “has used extreme force and violence to crack down on any kind of dissent,” said the former New York Times Iran correspondent.

“People are just fed up. They don’t feel like there’s a reason for them to take part in the election or any other political event that would show support for the regime,” she added.

“Long before the candidates were decided, people were calling for boycotting the election because they don’t want their vote to be counted as support for the regime,” Fathi said.

“Unfortunately none of the candidates, including Ebrahim Raisi — who seems to be the frontrunner — have been able to offer a policy, a roadmap or any kind of agenda that describes how they’d address the serious concerns that people have.

“Economic problems are deep and serious. They’ve impacted people in very profound ways. But none of the candidates have offered any policy on how they’ll address the problem, including the head of the central bank, who has been in charge of monetary policy.”

Fathi added: “People don’t know what’s going to happen to them on basic questions that every presidential candidate should answer.”

She said the regime is increasingly disinterested in the views of the people, and the outcome of the election has been manufactured with the disqualification of candidates.

“The regime is on a trend where it cares less and less about how people are going to vote. It’s showing less and less accountability,” she added.

“The regime doesn’t care about turnout, and they want to move with this election so there would be no risk to Raisi winning.”

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