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The economy is at the heart of the presidential campaign in Iran

Photo: Atta Kenare Agence France-Presse The approximately 85 million Iranians are indeed facing very high inflation, of the order of 40%, high unemployment and the record depreciation of the rial, the national currency, against the dollar.

Ahmad Parhizi – Agence France-Presse and Payam Doost Mohamadi – Agence France-Presse in Tehran

Published yesterday at 11:31 a.m.

  • Middle East

Ten days before the presidential election in Iran, the campaign is intensifying between the six candidates in the running, who differ on the strategy to revive the economy, affected by severe international sanctions.

So far subdued, the campaign should come to life in the run-up to this hastily organized election to replace President Ebrahim Raïssi, who died in May in a helicopter accident .

The home stretch began with the first of five televised debates which brought together the six candidates on Monday evening.

For four hours, they detailed their solutions to resolve economic problems, a central concern of voters, many of whom struggle to make ends meet.

The approximately 85 million Iranians are indeed faced with very high inflation, of the order of 40%, high unemployment and the record depreciation of the rial, the national currency, compared to the dollar.

The government nevertheless praises the good performance of growth, which amounted to 5.7% during the 12 months ended in March. He expects 8% for this year, thanks to the increase in hydrocarbon exports.

“I promise workers and retirees that we will strengthen the economy” in order to fight “against inflation” and “preserve their purchasing power”, declared Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, the President of Parliament, during the debate.

In the absence of polls, this conservative candidate is considered by experts as one of the three favorites of the election, with Said Jalili, the former ultraconservative negotiator of the nuclear issue, and Massoud Pezeshkian, deputy of Tabriz (north-west) and former Minister of Health.

The latter has the difficult task of reviving the reformist current which has lost in recent years the political influence it had since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

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Lifting of sanctions

No reformist or moderate personality had been authorized to run in the 2021 presidential election , after being disqualified by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution, a body dominated by conservatives. This election was easily won by Ebrahim Raïssi, the candidate from the conservative and ultraconservative camp, supported by the supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

During the televised debate , three of the six candidates, including MM. Ghalibaf and Pezeshkian, estimated that priority should be given to the lifting of sanctions affecting the economy since the unilateral exit of the United States from the nuclear agreement in 2018.

< p>Washington notably imposes an embargo on petroleum products, aeronautics and the mining sector. It prohibits the use of the dollar in commercial transactions with Iran.

“If we could lift the sanctions, the Iranians could live comfortably,” Mr. Pezeshkian on Tuesday, saying that, if elected, Iran would be “neither anti-West nor anti-East.”

For him, “it is impossible to achieve the objective of 8% growth” without reestablishing normal economic relations “with other countries”, including the West, who have completely deserted Iran in recent years.

One of his supporters, former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, recalled that Iran had benefited from “single-digit inflation and double-digit economic growth” following the deal. on nuclear power concluded in 2015 with the great powers.

Another candidate, the conservative Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, estimated the amount of investments at “250 billion dollars”. necessary, particularly to modernize key oil and gas production sectors.

Because of the sanctions, “financial transfers have become impossible and our economy is blocked”, regretted Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the only religious candidate for the presidential election.

But for his competitor Alireza Zakani, the ultraconservative mayor of Tehran, “the problems of the Iranian economy are not are not linked to the cruel American sanctions”. “We must promote the independence of the country,” notably by “dedollarizing the economy,” he proposed.

During the three years of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi has pursued a policy of openness “to the East”, notably by strengthening economic ties with China and Russia, while making up with Arab countries, led by his Saudi rival.

At the same time, relations have continued to deteriorate with Western countries, particularly since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip in October, with Tehran presenting itself as the primary supporter of the Palestinian movement Hamas against Israel.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116