Economic crisis, political apathy overshadow Iran’s elections

By Artemis Razmipour

Tehran, Jun 15 (EFE).- The economic crisis and weakening national currency are Iranians’ major worry as they prepare to vote in presidential elections Friday.

Inflation of the Iranian rial is expected to reach 39% in 2021, representing a 2.5% growth after the economy plunged by 6.8%, stifled by a toughening of US sanctions against in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Turnout for the elections at the end of the week is expected to be low as many Iranians have little faith that change can be achieved at the ballot box.

This voter apathy has been fueled by a raft of factors, including recent corruption scandals, the harsh clampdown by authorities on protests against the economic crisis as well as public criticism over a lack of political and social freedoms in the country.

According to the Iranian Polling Agency, 38-45% of Iranians will head to polls and, out of some 100 eligible voters interviewed by Efe, only one said they would vote, although not by choice.

“I need my job, if I don’t vote they will fire me because they check my documents for the election stamp,” 58-year-old civil servant, Zahra, told Efe.

The rest of those consulted expressed mistrust, fear or indifference regarding the new president who they believe will have no real power or positive impact on the country and its battered economy.

“Even if instead of seven thieves, there were qualified and worthy candidates, the future president has no power,” engineer Raza said.

“This is not just my opinion, it has been revealed by the system that in the over 40 years since the revolution the government has done nothing in favor of the people while parallel institutions – not elected by popular vote –  have grown day by day,” he added.

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