Undecided voters are the wild card  

June 3, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN - The campaign slogans of every candidate running in the June 12 presidential election are echoing across the land.

“A progressive Iran with law, justice, and freedom”, “Just for Iran, all together for change”, “Economic revolution, cultural revolution, and political reforms”, and “We can” are the main campaign slogans.
Just nine days until the election, the campaign trail is on fire, and only time will tell who will win the election and which slogan will be used as the road map for running the country for the next four years.
The presidential campaign officially began on May 22. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sixth president of the Islamic Republic, is seeking reelection using the campaign slogan “We Can”.
On June 24, 2005, Ahmadinejad was elected president of Iran in a runoff election. The self-declared independent was the mayor of Tehran before becoming president.
Presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi is an Iranian politician, painter, and architect who served as the fifth and last prime minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Afterwards Mousavi became the president of the Iranian Academy of Arts.
He was the last prime minister in Iran before the constitutional changes which eliminated the post of prime minister. Before that, he served as foreign minister. He is also a member of the Expediency Council and the High Council of the Cultural Revolution.
After 20 years of political silence, Mousavi decided to run in the 2009 presidential election with the slogan “A progressive Iran with law, justice, and freedom”.
Former Majlis speaker Mahdi Karroubi, who is the leader of the National Confidence Party, is running for president again this year. In the 2005 presidential election, he finished third, right behind Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Karroubi’s campaign slogan is “Just for Iran, all together for change”.
Mohsen Rezaii, who was a candidate in the 2005 presidential election but withdrew two days before the election, is also running again this year.
Mohsen Rezaii, who is currently the secretary of the Expediency Council and formerly served as the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, is using the campaign slogan “Economic revolution, cultural revolution, and political reforms”.
And now the candidates’ political platforms have become the hot topics of debate in Iran.
But it seems that undecided voters are the wild card in this year’s election.
According to the official figures for the 2005 presidential election, there were about 18 million undecided voters that year. If 10 million of them participate in the 2009 election, the candidate who wins their votes will surely win the election, and thus every campaign team is fiercely competing to woo the undecided voters.
Two weeks into the presidential election campaign, each candidate is focusing on getting his message out on national television. And each candidate is aware that any serious misstep on TV would probably kill his chance for victory.
Mahdi Karroubi highlighted the importance of TV when he wrote a letter to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Director Ezatollah Zarqami urging him to make sure IRIB broadcasts are fair. Also, in an open letter to the Majlis speaker and the Judiciary chief, Mir-Hossein Mousavi criticized IRIB and asked national television broadcasters to be impartial.
The campaign clips of the candidates’ speeches and election platforms that are being shown on TV indicate that they are making maximum use of the media. The clips are also being sent to people as sms text messages, and appear to be affecting public opinion.
Posters and banners have become less useful and the internet is now playing a major role in the campaigns, just as it did in Barack Obama’s election campaign.
All this shows that this year’s presidential election will be different than the previous ones since modern technology is playing a greater role. The internet has entered the scene, facebook is being utilized for making connections between many groups, and web sites are being established.
Another innovation in the campaigns has been the use of colors. It seems that the color war is a new strategy. Each candidate has chosen a color as his symbol and their supporters use these colors to identify themselves.
Ahmadinejad’s campaign director has announced that their color is the color of justice and purity. “All these (themes) are implicit in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s flag, which is the symbol of monotheism, independence, and… the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Mousavi has chosen the color green to represent his campaign.
Karroubi has chosen white as his color. His young supporters often wear white wristbands.
However, we will have to wait until the election is over to see which candidate ran the most successful campaign.