Reasons Behind Low Turnout at Local Councils Elections

March 3, 1999 - 0:0
The nationwide elections to the local councils were successfully held on Friday for the first time in post-revolution Iran. Any unbiased observer will definitely appreciate two aspects of the elections: first, the fairness and second, the security that prevailed the elections. Not a single ballot box was stolen and no rigging or untoward incident was reported during the elections, which is really unprecedented in the world.

Contrary to the previous elections, the vetting of the candidates running in councils elections was not very strict. For instance, the candidates of the Freedom Movement of Iran were allowed for the first time to participate in the elections. Without any doubt, people from all walks of life were given a chance to run for the elections with no restrictions, and the number of candidates throughout the country reached as high as 400,000.

Given the large number of candidates, which was almost half a million, naturally the turnout should have been very high. But it was not so in the Friday elections, with the turnout recorded at only 60 percent of those eligible to vote. Therefore, it would by no means be out of place to examine the reasons for such a low turnout, considering that candidates of all political leanings were allowed to run in the race.

However, there are no clear-cut reasons for the low turnout at this stage, but some believe that the war of posters and the amount of money spent on the electioneering campaign by some candidates may have discouraged some people. At a juncture when the country is going through a critical economic condition, the huge spending on posters indicates the gap between the rich and the poor.

The candidates who have spent a fortune on publicity are expected to serve the public interest if elected to the civic bodies. Now there are some questions raised before the public. First, where did all that money come from? And second, can those candidates who are ready to spend huge amounts of money only to be elected to the councils be reliable representatives? However, the war of posters cannot be taken as the only reason for the low turnout.

There are certainly other reasons as well that should be revealed through careful study.