Iran is preparing for the presidential election amidst economic challenges.

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Iran is preparing for the presidential election amidst economic challenges.

Six contenders for president have run relatively low-key campaigns with the goal of addressing the issues facing the nation.

TEHRAN: Amid the country’s ongoing economic difficulties, Iranians are prepared to choose a new president on Friday.

Not scheduled until 2025, the presidential elections are being held in response to the death of late President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter accident last month.

Iran is preparing for the presidential election amidst economic challenges.
A billboard with a picture of the presidential candidates is displayed on a street in Tehran, Iran, June 17, 2024.

Reformist Massoud Pezeshkian, conservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, and conservative parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf are the front-runners for Iran’s second highest position.

The others are Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a priest, conservative Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani, and the director of the Martyrs’ Foundation, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, who is now serving as vice president.

The six have conducted relatively low-key campaigns, including debates on television in which they pledged to address economic issues and presented differing opinions on Iran’s ties with the West.

Pezeshkian has received support from reformist leaders including as former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and president Mohammad Khatami.

A 35-year-old tax specialist named Alireza Valadkhani told AFP he will support Ghalibaf because he “is the only one who can help Iran in its current situation”.

Financial difficulties

How each contender would address the current economic problems of those who are struggling to make ends meet is a critical challenge.

Even if the nation has managed to prevent a complete economic collapse, primarily as a result of oil shipments to China and rising crude prices, petroleum exports are still lower than they were before to 2018.

The majority of contenders vying to succeed Raisi claim they want to carry out his policies of increased economic independence and business connections with Asia. Others have favored more open ties with the outside world but haven’t provided any concrete solutions to deal with sanctions.

The World Bank reports that unemployment is currently at 7.6%, down from 9.6% prior to Raisi’s election. However, a lot of formal occupations pay very little, therefore the actual number of people who don’t have enough money to survive is probably much greater.

“It is not hard to understand why the majority of Iranians are angry,” Virginia Tech Economics Professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani remarked.

“Poverty and living standards may have decreased during the past two years, but this was not the case a decade or two ago. Salehi-Isfahani went on, “The new president can bring hope and prevent things from getting worse, but he cannot return Iran to the prosperous 2000s.”

In recent months, the cost of staples like beef, rice, and dairy has increased dramatically. In the past three years, the subsidised price of lavash bread, which is the most popular among Iranian households, has increased by at least 230%, while the price of red meat has increased by 440% to $10 per kilogram, making it unaffordable for many.

The candidates have pledged to carry out the nation’s seventh development plan, which was authorized by parliament last year. In addition to boosting exports and reducing inflation, it lays out lofty goals to expand by 8% annually while under sanctions.

However, the World Bank projects that Iran’s annual growth rates will fall below 3.2% over the next three years due to a combination of internal energy problems, sanctions, and muted global demand.

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