Thursday, March 13, 2008

Iran: Prospect of voter boycott casts shadow on parliamentary polls

Rome, 13 March (AKI) - By Ahmad Rafat -

The prospect of voters shunning the ballot box appears to be the greatest threat to Friday's parliamentary elections. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on Thursday for the fourth time this week urged voters not to stay away.

"This time, more than in past elections, the population must turn out to vote in large numbers in order to thwart the plans of domineering world powers, which want to weaken our countries with their diabolical schemes," he said.

The fresh sanctions against Iran recently approved by the United Nations Security Council, were "an attempt to induce Iranians not to participate in the electoins," Khamenei stated.

"This attempt will fail miserably, given that everyone will stick to their duty to choose the most capable people to take forward policies that guarantee honour and prosperity to our country," he warned.

Only a day earlier, a Iran's former president and leader of the reformist opposition, Mohammad Khatami launched a similar appeal in which he urged people to vote in order to save the country.

"Our enemies hope polling stations will be empty in order to claim that the Islamic Republic has lost the support of the people," Khatami said, speaking at the Ali ibn Musa mosque.

"A massive turnout at the election will enable you to have a wise parliament, with representatives who are faithful to Allah and to the values of the Revolution," Khatami added.

"Today, we are threatened and only if people vote in droves will we be able to be able to protect ourselves from the atatcks that aim to destroy us," he said.

In the last two elections, the 2006 presidential polls that brought hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, and in last year's local polls, less than 60 percent of electors voted. In the 1990s, electoral turnout was around 80 percent.

Those who have been staying away from the ballot box are not only supporters of Iran's opposition, who at each election call for voters to abstain as a form of struggle against the Islamic Republic.

Voter who have boycotted recent polls also include women and young people, who had placed their hopes in Khatami and the reformists and feel "betrayed" and abandoned.

Ordinary Iranians remain sceptical of Friday's parliamentary polls, which do seem more than anything to be a referendum on Ahmadinejad's presidency. His term concludes in a year's time, and he has already lost many many of his allies.

If the list headed by Ahmadinejad performs disastrously once again, as it did in last year's local elections, he will fail to get re-elected to serve a second term as president.

This prospect fascinates many of the conservative, pragmatic and reformist factions, but is of no interest to the majority of Iranians, who are more concerned about issues such as petrol rationing and having enough money to celebrate Iran's new year next week. (ADNKRONOS)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home