Streets heat up with election fervor

June 10, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN - The televised debates between the candidates running in Iran’s 10th presidential election have raised the level of excitement on Iran’s streets.

With just 72 hours until the election, Iran’s streets are full of life. Young supporters of the various hopefuls are jubilantly campaigning in the street for their preferred candidates. Street debates on the main squares remind one of the atmosphere of the revolution in 1979.
Cars have been converted into election campaign offices. Everywhere young people are wearing green, the color of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s campaign, and waving Iran’s flag as a sign of support for the incumbent president. Posters are scattered all over the streets. The main squares have become centers for debating the strong and weak points of each candidate.
It is interesting that the street debates, which lasted until midnight during the first days of the campaign, have become longer and longer every day and now drag on to 2 am.
Except for a few minor scuffles between supporters of rival candidates, the election has been quite peaceful. Boisterous people cheer and others beep their car horns incessantly as the election campaign heats up.
The police held a meeting with MPs in which they said the electoral rules and regulations must be fully observed. In the meeting, officials told election campaign office staff members that they are bound by law to tell their candidates’ supporters that they must not disturb the peace, obstruct streets, insult supporters of other candidates, chant divisive slogans, violate others’ rights, or tear down posters and banners of other candidates.
Election campaign offices’ representatives have always underscored the importance of maintaining order and security. Thus, in order to uphold the dignity of the people and Iran and to ensure that the election is held smoothly, it was agreed that some special plans and strategies should be adopted and election campaign office staff members should be briefed about them.
Commenting on the occurrence of some disturbances during the first days and nights of the campaign, the deputy operations commander of the national police said, “The police will take legal action against anyone who breaks the law through non-stop beeping and making noise.”
So far, no cars of campaigners have been impounded by the police, Brigadier General Hossein Sajedinia added.
“But the police will take action against anyone who sticks huge posters on their cars,” he noted.
The police have rejected the rumor that the commander of its traffic control headquarters had said that people who place posters on their cars would be fined 70,000 rials.
The tactics of person-to-person campaigning and street campaigning were first employed by Mousavi’s supporters, but in recent days they have also been utilized by Ahmadinejad supporters. Campaigners address passers-by in the streets trying to persuade them to vote for their candidate. Mahdi Karrubi’s supporters are also using these tactics.
A glance at the street campaigns in Iran’s cities clearly shows that the predictions of an election boycott are nonsense. Citizens are curious to know what is being said in the street debates and get out of their cars to become informed. Many people take part in these discussions to express their ideas about the national situation.
These are some of the good points about the election campaign. However, some reprehensible actions, like splashing paint on rival candidates’ banners and tearing down their posters, have also occurred.
This excitement and eagerness shows that the majority of the Iranian people believe the election is important and will definitely not boycott it.