High voter turnout expected in Iran presidential election

March 15, 2021 - 22:6

TEHRAN – Iran is slowly moving toward an early election fever, with several unofficial candidates privately organizing their campaign staff to prepare for one of Iran’s most consequential elections that could determine Iran’s trajectory for years to come. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran is going to hold its 13th presidential election on June 18. On the surface, this election will be held in a pre-planned way, meaning that it would be a regular one in the history of the Islamic Republic, which has so far held 12 presidential elections successfully. But, in some ways, the election would be more consequential this time, simply because it will be held in much more different circumstances. First, the 13th presidential will most likely be held during the coronavirus pandemic, something that will require the Iranian government to put into place new measures to protect voters from Covid-19.

Secondly, the upcoming election will be held against a backdrop of economic challenges created by the United States pressure campaign against Iran. The U.S. imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran following former U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)- in May 2018. Trump piled up sanctions on Iran in a bid to force Iran into making more concessions to the U.S. within the framework of a new nuclear deal. Trump, however, failed to get his deal, bequeathing his successor a litany of unresolved issues with Iran.

The Biden administration has said it wants to open a new chapter with Iran and change tack, though it is yet to make any move to break with the Trump legacy on Iran. Over the past weeks, there have been some European-brokered diplomatic efforts between Washington and Tehran in relation to the JCPOA but these efforts seem to have hit a dead-end, making the next presidential election even more important as it will produce the next Iranian administration that will lead the efforts to lift sanctions. 

This fact has not been lost on ordinary Iranians, who, despite economic challenges, attach importance to the 2021 election’s results, according to a new opinion poll conducted by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) in the period between January 20 and February 18.

According to the poll, a remarkable portion of Iranian society still positively looks to the political changes that will be produced by the election in the next spring. The poll showed that a large number of Iranian people hope that with the change of government, openness will be achieved in their individual and societal lives. 

More than 1,500 people above the age of 18 have participated in the ISPA poll. They were asked the following question: “In your view, how much does the participation of people in the election can be effective in resolving the current problems of the country?”

More than 55% of the respondents said they believe that participation of the people in the June election will have a positive impact on resolving the current problems while less than 39% said that participation will be to no use. A breakdown of the second figure into two groups shows that 13% of respondents believe that the election will be “somehow ineffective” in changing the conditions of their lives. And 26% of respondents said the election will not be effective at all. 

The ISPA poll shows in no uncertain terms that the majority of Iranian people pin hopes on the election’s results and look forward to participating in the June election. According to the poll, those hoping the election will contribute to making their lives better have already made decision to vote.

SM/PA

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