Iran's leader set for poll victory with clerical help: President Rafsanjani expects voters to renew his mandate for economic reform

THE FULL weight of the religious establishment was mobilised yesterday to encourage Iranians to vote in a presidential election that is set to give a fresh mandate to President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to continue market reforms. These have fuelled inflation and caused untold hardship for ordinary workers.

The country's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would not endorse any candidate. But he said that it was a religious obligation of the country's voters to cast their ballots. Such action, he said, would disprove the insinuations of Zionists and imperialists who said that the Islamic revolution had died with Ayatollah Khomeini four years ago.

The sentiment was echoed by the son of the leader of the revolution. Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khomeini said yesterday was 'a decisive day for our people. Today the dear Iranian people will prove once again with their presence at the polling booths that they will continue to neutralise the propaganda ploys of the Western media.'

Elections are not prescribed in the Koran, nor do they derive from Islamic tradition, which favours the concept of shura, or consultation. Yet learned clerics used the television as their pulpit to explain that while the presidential system of government was borrowed from Western models, it was not incompatible with Islam.

In Tehran, voters passed through the brilliant tiled portals of mosques and schools to cast their votes. Revolutionary guards carried out spot checks on vehicles to prevent sabotage by opposition groups.

Yet for most it was neither religious obligation nor civic duty that impelled them to vote, but administrative necessity. In the absence of an electoral roll, the 29 million voters, men and women over 16, needed only to produce an identity card. This was then stamped to prevent voting more than once. Before the elections it was rumoured that those who failed to vote would not be able to secure ration cards, register their children at schools or get their pensions. No attempt was made to deny the rumours.

It was in the government's interests to secure a high turnout, to endorse the policies of the incumbent. Radical opponents of President Rafsanjani's reform programme, who had threatened to boycott the election, later decided to cast blank or spoilt ballot papers. Yet even if the turnout is low - polling stations were often nearly deserted - President Rafasanjani can be confident of a second term to carry out his plan to rescue the country from international isolation and lift it out of economic under-development.

Three other token candidates had been approved after being screened by the conservative clerical Council of Guardians, who could vouch for their credentials as true sons of the 1979 Islamic revolution. None enjoyed comparable stature to the pragmatic and experienced Mr Rafsanjani, who has dominated Iranian politics since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. They were Ahmad Tavakkoli, an economics writer; Abdullah Jasbim, head of a private university; and Rajabali Taheri, a former MP.

The President has said he will concentrate on economic issues. The situation has deteriorated. The liberalisation of the economy, and privatisation of state assets, are matched by the exhaustion of foreign currency reserves at a time when oil revenues are under pressure from falling world prices. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the effects of the government's policies, especially in towns outside Tehran.

Though widely seen as a pragmatist, Mr Rafsanjani contradicted in an interview with Time magazine the idea that he was a moderate. 'These terms - moderate and extremist - are your words . . . Whenever I say that we would like to have peaceful co-existence with the West, the interpretation is that Iran would like to get rid of revolutionary values, but for us it is possible to have both. When I defend revolution, you say I'm a hard-liner. When I say we would like to have co-operation with the West, you say I'm being moderate. That's because you don't know Iran. As far as we are concerned, they go together.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'