Candidates spar in second showdown

June 8, 2021 - 23:31

TEHRAN — The candidates faced off each other on Tuesday, exchanging views on political, social, and cultural topics, with a taste of economic promises.

An hour prior to the debate, candidates arrived at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) building to prepare for the second debate. Each had his own strategy in the debate. All candidates seemed to be focusing on presenting their plans, instead of accusing and defaming each other. Alireza Zakani said he is here to eradicate poverty, while Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh said that he will stick to his game plan and will not change his debating strategy. Mohsen Rezaei said that he hopes for the people to witness a fresh start and a new chapter in their lives and his government will “grant” hope to the people. Abdolnasser Hemmati said that he will focus on presenting his plans, as he is here to rescue media, economy, and culture. He called his administration "Government of National Transparency." Saeed Jalili said that the debates are a ground to exchange views in a friendly atmosphere, hoping candidates share plans about neglected issues such as women, villagers and others. At the meantime, Raeisi said his rival is fraud and immorality, telling people that their will is important in improving the situation. He said he will not use his extra 5 minute to debunk accusations against himself. Amir Hossein Qazizadeh said he is here to build an Iran with the involvement of all classes of society, hoping candidates focus on main points. He said he has worked on his plans for years.

The debate started off with the drawing of lots to determine candidates’ seats. Mohsen Rezaei was given seat 1; Alireza Zakani seat 2; Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh seat 3; Amir Hossein Qazizadeh seat 4; Saeed Jalili seat 5; Ebrahim Raeisi seat 6; and Abdolnasser Hemmati seat 7.

Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi

Raeisi opened the debate by saying that he forfeits his extra 5 minute to debunk accusations levelled against him in the first debate held on Saturday.

“Social inequality is a result of mismanagement,” he said.

He also said that he will regulate salaries and give impetus to economic capacities.

When he was given 4 minutes to critique candidates' remarks, the top judge said he has always been responsible in every position. He also stated that the most important issue of the country is to follow every single thing, such as regulating the salaries of workers and teachers. 

Each candidate was given 3 minutes to defend his plans. Raeisi began his 3-minute defense by saying that people's livelihood has been heavily affected. He said Iran has political independence, but not economic independence due to some officials’ viewpoints. He also said that justice is being undermined in all aspects, and it should be restored, especially political, social and economic justice.

In the second half of the debate, Raeisi discussed the need to remove cruel sanctions and at the same time making efforts to neutralize them. 

“Economy should not be subjected to sanctions,” he said, emphasizing that active economic diplomacy cannot be achieved through words. According to the cleric presidential candidate, economic development is achievable through international marketing. 

In his conclusion, Raeisi said that rights of the people must be guaranteed. Exemplifying the role of cyberspace in monitoring Judiciary officials as the chief judge, he said that it should be used by people to observe officials. 

Mohsen Rezaei

Rezaei said one cannot deal with challenges through mottos and wizardry, adding he will stay until the end of election race and will not quit.  

Addressing the audience, he said, "I will bring your stolen rights back." 

When he was given 4 minutes to evaluate candidates' remarks, he said that his plan is called "Iran without poor people," planning to provide "Abundance and Life" packages, including 450,000 tomans in cash subsidy. 

In his 3-minute defense, he said that Iranian youth need to believe and be hopeful, stating that dedicated management can solve all challenges.

The former IRGC chief also claimed that environment has never been considered in five-year development plans. 

“I plan to establish schools for ‘future leaders’ in all provinces,” he said. He stated that his administration will base education system on schools, and women will benefit from cheap internet to sell goods and promote their business.

Rezaei also promised to provide cheap housing for teachers to take a burden off of their shoulders. 

In conclusion, he said that his plan is to perform major structural surgeries in the country. “I will reform political parties, and solve social issues through economy.” 

Saeed Jalili

Jalili said that government officials need to change behavior to repair the damaged trust of people on officials, reiterating that Iran cannot be governed through "shows".

When given 4 minutes to criticize candidates’ remarks, he said president should not just rule but prioritize plans to make Iran to make a “jump”. He added that maximum participation in the election is possible through presentation of candidates’ plans.

In his 3-minute defense, he said that the president needs synergy among all organizations, and should define missions for organizations and seriously follow the ensuing results. 

In the second half of the debate, Jalili said that healthcare is not limited to just one ministry, and the government needs synergy among all government bodies. He said unemployment and road accidents affect healthcare, and they are not something the Ministry of Health can overcome singlehandedly. Other ministries should participate as well, he insisted.

He also said that Iran should not wait for a few (Western) countries, and should interact with all countries. 

Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh 

Mehr Alizadeh began his remarks by saying that Iran must revive the JCPOA and negotiate from the position of power.

He also said that he will regulate recruitment of teachers and their salaries, and pay special attention to healthcare workers. He also said that COVID-19 crisis could have been handled better. 

He also said the government needs to support the youth lifestyle. 

The presidential contender said, “Our young scientists have developed nuclear program, and research institutes should localize nuclear science.” 

Mehr Alizadeh said that Iranian youth have accomplished so much. He also said that he will elect 3 female ministers if the Majlis agrees. He added his government’s average age would be 45.

He concluded by saying that opportunities should be provided for the youth, and investment in cyberspace should be eased. 

Abdolnasser Hemmati

Hemmati began his remarks by saying that he is the voice of the “silent majority”, arguing that monopoly is a major cause of inefficiency and corruption.

When given 4 minutes to critique candidates’ remarks, he said that cyberspace will help boost small businesses and he will remove obstacles for businesses. He said that he had sacrificed two years of his life running the central bank.

In his 3-minute defense, he said that meritocracy should be given priority, and his likely administration will seek to tap the competence of all ethnic and religious minorities and also women. He said that he will pay attention to environment and also make serious efforts to remove sanctions on Iran. He added that sanctions caused growth in liquidity.

He reiterated that his slogan is "interaction from homes to the world," calling himself “the commander of sanction neutralization.”

He concluded by saying that he views everything economically, and considers himself representative of the youth.

Amir Hossein Qazizadeh 

Qazizadeh said that different bodies of the government need to work in harmony and that a structural reform is needed.

When given 4 minutes to critique candidates' remarks, he said that he will pay special attention to the youth, criticizing long years of education and lamented brain drain.

He also said that the death toll from COVID-19 in Iran is unjustifiable.

“Debates are to make people understand candidates' plans,” he said. He called Ministry of Education the most important ministry, saying that scouting talents is missing in the education system.

He said that “meritocracy” should be the criteria for appointing people in important positions. 

He concluded by saying that the president is responsible for the country's strategies, and the Foreign Ministry should use economic opportunities.

Alireza Zakani

Zakani began by saying that he is following 4 major plans in the field of culture and society, including environment protection. He added that as physician he will provide insurance for fertile couples.

When given 4 minutes to assess the candidates' remarks, he said that freedom cannot be separated from justice, arguing that actions show candidates' records.

In his 3-minute defense, he said that he is ready to hold debate with all candidates based on facts and figures, adding that president should present a complete package. Zakani repeated that he can uproot poverty in the first year of his presidency. 

“My government will serve people, and I will distribute wealth fairly. I will confront those involved in economic corruption; our enemy is poverty, corruption and discrimination,” he said. 

He concluded by saying that the people are fed up with economic frauds. He added production obstacles must be removed.

He added that the people’s privacy should be respected, and discrimination must be abolished. He finally said that 26 spies were arrested in the current administration.

SA/PA

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