Like many Iranians, 31-year-old Amir is pondering what to do on June 14, when Iran chooses a new president. He has two options — to vote or not to vote — and neither is good, he says. Voting could lend legitimacy to the Iranian establishment in the international arena and help it erase the embarrassment caused by Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s contentious reelection in 2009. More than 70 people were killed and chaos ensued after mass protests erupted following that election, and the international community widely criticized Tehran’s response.
By not voting, however, citizens could lose a rare chance to have an impact on issues that affect their daily lives. The final list of candidates can be expected to be hand-picked by the establishment, but from that group voters could choose the one best suited to turning around the economy, for example.
Moreover, in what appears to be an effort to boost participation, the presidential vote is for the first time being held concurrently with city council elections. Local polls usually generate considerable enthusiasm in smaller cities and villages, and by sitting out voters would miss out on an opportunity to weigh in on matters close to home.
The authorities and potential candidates have highlighted the vote’s significance by calling for a turnout that would deal a blow to the country’s enemies, in the words of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
High voter participation would be taken by the Iranian establishment as a sign of popular grassroots support, countering outside claims that Iranian’s political system does not represent the will of the people.
Full Article: Iran’s Presidential Election Poses Dilemma For Voters.