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Iran's 2009 Presidential Elections: Who's Who?


AUTHOR:  Kourosh ZIABARI ˜æÑæÔ ÖیÇÈÑی


Iran's 10th Presidential Elections is approaching the eventual stage. With the 4 final candidates being approved by the Guardian Council, 46 million qualified Iranians will decide on June 12 that whether the incumbent President Ahmadinejad will be holding office for an extra 4 years or not.

The hard-line conservative President Ahmadinejad who is looking forward to see his mission extended for another 4 years, the reformist former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, the ex-parliament speaker Mahdi Karroubi and the former chief commander of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Major General Mohsen Rezaee are the four figures who will be judged by Iranians on the determining day of June 12 where the first executive authority of Iran will be elected to be sent to the presidential palace on Tehran's Pasteur Street. 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Thanks to the runoff set where he would only contend the unpopular, centrist cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani, he won the souls and minds of some 17 million Iranians on June 24 and was elected to be the first non-clergy president of Iran after 24 years.

Being an almost unknown and marginalized competitor, Ahmadinejad incalculably appealed to Iran's extremist conservatives, Militia students, employees of governmental organizations, village and countryside dwellers and the below-average citizens who were seeking the betterment of their financial situations a remarkable increase in their incomes and mainly, an alteration in the convention of electing cleric presidents.

Ahmadinejad's main electoral slogans by which he could gain a widespread trust were:

* Sharing the oil incomes among the impoverished groups of people;

* Reviving the values and hallmarks of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and continuing to traverse the "Path of Imam Khomeini";

* Interacting with the youths and students constructively and peacefully;

* Confronting the "bullying powers" and resisting the "Great Satan", referring to the United States of America;

* Dissolving the sumptuous and luxurious lifestyle of presidents in Iran, living in plain and inexpensive houses, speaking directly to the people and making regional trips to meet the residents of each province and county in person;

* Creating a 70-million-strong cabinet, consisting of everyone living in Iran.

What his Supporters say (Conservatives):

* Ahmadinejad could successfully undermine and demoralize the Western Powers, break down the hegemony of U.S. and Israel, brazen the nuclear standoff out and defeat the alliance of unjust international system;

* He successfully revealed the true face of Israel and its felonies in the Occupied Palestine by making pungent attacks to Tel Aviv on various occasions, delivering heroic speeches in the UN, Geneva, Columbia University etc.;

* He overthrew the dominance of certain lobbies and families over the oil revenues and reserves of Iran, met with impecunious and impoverished people personally and made "President" a popular and reachable personality;

* He revived the soul of revolutionism and resistance with his interviews and speeches;

* He wiped the western cultural stereotypes off the face of country and brought independence, self-determination and self-confidence back to Iran;

* He strengthened the Islamic solidarity and integrity by traveling to Arab and African countries and meeting with religious leaders;

* His government constructed a stack of hospitals, sports stadiums, universities, libraries and roads all around the country.

What his Critics say (Reformists and Moderate Conservatives):

* Ahmadinejad brought Iran to unnecessary and pointless quarrels with the world and enfeebled the national dignity of Iran;

* He turned the country's peaceful nuclear dossier a battleground with Israel and caused the imposition of several rounds of rough sanctions against Iran;

* He deviated the national attention, budget and concentration toward the issue of Palestine instead of solving the economic problems and reducing the 25% of domestic inflation;

* Instead of developing the mutual relations with powerful and strong economies of the world, he made Iran lose all of its European and Asian partners; his only meeting with a European leader was his May 2009 meeting with the Swiss President in Geneva;

* By banning the reformist newspapers, closing the International Center for the Dialogue of Civilizations and imprisoning the political dissidents, he blackened the cultural and human rights record of Iran;

* He portrayed a deteriorative and terrorist image of Iran in the world media and among the public opinions;

* He mismanaged the national economy; the inflation rate hit 29% during his tenure.

Mirhossein Mousavi

A moderate, independent reformist who calls himself "a reformist who returns to principles", Mirhossein Mousavi is a 67, old-hand politician, painter and architect who served as the fifth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989

He has the endorsement of three major reformist parties for the upcoming elections and the academic society of Iran, the majority of youths and a large number of those who usually boycott the elections are expected to vote for him. The most notable advantage which he enjoys is the "sweet memory" of his successful management of the Iran's war-trodden economy during the calamitous years of Iraqi-imposed war on Iran.

Mousavi is said to be the main contestant of the incumbent President Ahmadinejad and there is a nationwide consensus on him between the academic intellectuals, journalists, critics, artists and even the moderate conservatives who believe that he would be the only one to salvage the country from the current crises. The most fervent critics of Mousavi are the traditional conservatives, radical religious circles which mostly go beyond the Islamic customs and practice their own extremist rites and those who are somewhat linked to the power under the current administration.

The main electoral slogans of Mirhossein, whom the young fans and journalists call by his first name, are:

* Pursuing the policy of détente with the western countries, talking to U.S. President Obama and repairing the extremist image of Iran in the world;

* Establishing private TV and Radio stations and demolishing the state dominance over mass media tools;

* Increasing the country's exportation to European customers and reducing the monumental growth of imports;

* Avoiding the collective dismissal and expulsion of the ministers and high-ranking executives having served in the former administration;

* Abolishing the Religious Police which investigates and arrests people because of their dressing types;

* Allowing the free flow of information and creating a venue for diverse viewpoints and opinions to be expressed freely;

* Respecting the women rights and appointing female ministers for the first time in the post-Revolution history of Iran.

What his Supports say (Reformists and Moderate Conservatives):

* Mirhossein is the only one who can truly revive the Path of Imam Khomeini. This path is the path of peace and conciliation with the world, not the path of spreading hostility, enmity and mongering hatred against the revolution;

* He will preserve the nuclear rights of Iran while demonstrating to the international community that Iran is not a rogue state, does not intend to wipe any country off the map and does not long for war or argument with the world;

* He can salvage the national economy, alleviate the suffering of poor layers and inject a new blood into the frozen veins of Iran's exportation;

* Arts, sciences and culture will improve under Mirhossein as he has competently administered and managed the Iran Academy of Arts over the past years;

* He is not a naive and ardent speaker. He speaks gently, and avoids making myopic and reckless remarks;

* Mirhossein can turn the ethnic diversity of Iran into a progressive opportunity. He can congregate the Turks, Kurds, Azeris, Gilaks and Arabs of Iran under the national flag of solidarity;

* He can restore the national honor and international prestige of Iran by shunning the harmful relations with hostile neighbors, renewing ties with old allies and advocating the Persian culture worldwide.

What his Critics say (Conservatives):

* Mirhossein is employing populistic advertorial methods by bringing his wife to public and letting her accompany him and deliver speeches to students, workers etc.;

* He will surely stray from the Path of Imam by returning to the western cultural values, removing the constraints from the youth society and establishing relations with the US;

* He will continue the practical approach of former President Khatami under which, Iran was turned into a client of the western powers and lost its independence and power;

* Mousavi will bow down to the illegal demands of westerners and thus, he will lose the catchphrases and hallmarks of the Islamic Revolution;

* He has appointed people as his aides and assistants who are either dissidents or lack the sufficient religious, revolutionary backgrounds.

Mahdi Karroubi

Karroubi is an influential, moderate reformist politician who has served two terms as the Speaker of Iranian Parliament. He is a founding member of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics and a political advisor to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is a vocal critic of President Ahmadinejad and the right-wing Guardian Council which is arbitrarily eligible to approve or disqualify the potential candidates for every single election in Iran, e.g. presidential elections, parliamentary elections etc.

Karroubi is the chairman of the National Trust Party, having run for the 2005 Presidential Elections where he lost to Ahmadinejad and failed to qualify for the runoff round.

Unexpectedly, some of the most popular scholars and political figures in academia preferred to support him instead of Mirhossein Mousavi to run for president in 2009 which was unlikely after the patriarch of reform movement ex-president Khatami withdrew in favor of Mousavi; however, the results of nationwide polls and surveys show that Karroubi is not that much well-liked among the youths and even the moderate reformists to win a remarkable majority in the upcoming elections. He is said to have the least chance for being elected along with Mohsen Rezaee.

Interestingly, the Iranian winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Shirin Ebadi and the world-renowned public intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush have declared their support for Karroubi's presidential bid and told that he is the most proficient person to hold the office; even Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the former secretary of Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has stated that he would campaign for Karroubi despite the unconditional support which the former president has given to Mirhossein Mousavi.

Although Khatami has recently told the Chelcheragh magazine in an exclusive interview that "voting for Mousavi is tantamount to voting for me, and I believe that Mousavi is the sole one who can rescue us from the current situation", some of his former associates have opted to divide their itinerary and join Karroubi's campaign.

The main presidential slogans and pledges of Karroubi are:

* Paying an equivalent of $50 in cash to every Iranian above 18 on a monthly basis;

* Increasing the freedoms of students and activists in universities and removing the restrictions of Islamic Associations (moderate religious, reformist student unions which have been partly closed or banned under President Ahmadinejad);

* Improving the human rights records of Iran and banning the prosecution and execution of minors in Iran;

* Enabling the free criticism of President and other high-ranking officials if elected;

* Abolishing the Religious Police and removing the dressing restrictions;

* Talking to the U.S. President and restoring the muddled ties with the European countries.

What his Supporters say (Reformists):

* He is a courageous, plucky and audacious technocrat and can definitely practice what he preaches;

* He is influential and powerful enough to be a real power facing the Supreme Leader, while respecting and supporting him, instead of being a sole, frail piece whose actions are the direct translation of Supreme Leader's orders and decrees;

* He has a bright experience of chairing the parliament where he sponsored the freedom of press and opposed the extremism of both reformists and conservatives

* Despite having weak chances for being elected, he will increase the national participation and turnout of the elections, and fade the chances of conservatives' victory.

What his Critics say (Independent Reformists and Conservatives):

* His presidential agenda are equally the transcription of Mousavi's plans and programs; he does not have anything new and innovative to present;

* Karroubi knows well that the chances for him being elected are basically frail, exactly as what had happened to him in the 2005 elections; he just leads to a tragic vote-splitting among the reformists, and this will decrease the chances of Mirhossein Mousavi as the foremost reformist candidate;

* His promise to monthly share $50 among the Iranians above 18 is a populist and fraudulent advertorial pretension that will never be fulfilled;

* Although being so straightforward and expressive in his speeches, Karroubi lacks the sufficient eloquence and verbal articulacy of a president.

Mohsen Rezaee

A retired Major General and the former Chief Commander of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (AGIR), Mohsen Rezaee is the colleague of Mirhossein Mousavi in the Expediency Discernment Council, an administrative assembly that has been endowed with the conciliatory role to resolve the conflicts between the Consultative Assembly (Parliament) and the Guardian Council.

A moderate conservative with close ties to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, he is said to be the main rival of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in gaining support from the campaign of right-wingers and centrist Islamists.

He had first announced his bid for presidency in 2005, but dropped it immediately after being approved by the Guardian Council, having been informed of his weak chances for being elected.

Rezaee has not yet received any outstanding backing from the influential conservative parties such as the Islamic Society of Engineers, Combatant Clergy Association (which is different from the Association of Combatant Clerics) or the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran, but will probably contribute to the decline of Ahmadinejad's voters effectively, as said by a number of analysts and intellectuals.

Here are the most important electoral slogans and outlooks of Mohsen Rezaee:

* Reducing the inflation rate to a one-digit figure (9%);

* Appointing several ministers and high-ranking officials from the under-30 community of Iranian students and graduates;

* Appointing a female Foreign Minister in response to the U.S. tradition of selecting female Secretaries of State;

* Transforming the administrative pattern of Iran and managing the country through a federal outline;

* Engaging the masses of people in the process of macroeconomic decision-making and avoiding individualism in the high-level political courses;

* Exercising the Article 44 of Iran's Constitution on the expansion of privatization and shrinking the gravity of governmental undertakings off;

* Establishing communal dialogue with the new U.S. administration based on mutual respect and equality.

What his Supporters say (Moderate Conservatives and Reformists):

* He can help split the votes of Ahmadinejad as a number of independent conservatives will vote for him to protest the economic, political mismanagement of the incumbent president;

* He is a traditional, committed and principle-oriented conservative and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei supports him if elected;

* He can turn the economy of Iran into an ultra-regional and federal economy which is not dependent on the state and can be owned by people themselves;

* He is an experienced and well-informed war theoretician and can keep Iran on the safe shore by preventing the expansion of international tensions and controversies around the country's nuclear program.

What his Critics say (Conservatives):

* He has no chances to win; he just drops the voters of Ahmadinejad and decreases the probability of conservatives' victory;

* His possible victory will renew the elapsed calls of Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral which had issued international arrest warrant for Rezaee in connection with his alleged involvement in the July 18, 1994 AMIA bombing of Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires;

* His bid for presidency shows that he is not satisfied with the current situation of Mr. Ahmadinejad's administration and this is unacceptable principally as President Ahmadinejad is the sole reviver of Islamic values, morality, principles and fundamental commitment to the Path of Imam Khomeini.

 


Source: the auhor

Original article published on May 22, 2009

About the author

Kourosh Ziabari is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This article may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source and author are cited.

URL of this article on Tlaxcala:
http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=7683&lg=en

  


UMMA : 22/05/2009

 
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