Monday, May 16, 2005
Presidential Elections - Over 1,000 Iranians Bid for the Office
Scores of Iranians encouraged by family and friends turned up to the Interior Ministry seeking a bid to run for the 9th presidential election of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Most seemed to have walked off the street while many had found an opportunity to make a point. Only a few appear to have a legitimate claim and a chance for the office.
Over 1,000 Iranians registered as candidates for the presidency in the upcoming June 17 election. The list of applicants significantly higher than 4 years ago, up from 814, will be submitted to the Guardian Council for approval. Last term about 10 of those 814 were approved; officials at the ministry expect the same result this year.
Iran’s Interior Ministry’s building, a government tower with a helipad on its rooftop erected distance away from the street, was the filing center for this very first step in the Islamic Republic presidential election.
A spokesperson for the ministry, overwhelmed by the number of hopeful applicants, during this five-day period explained “the problem is that there is no age, education or even experience requirements”. Filing an application is open to every Iranians. The very first step seems to merely requiring applicants to know how to read and write.
Among the more powerful claimants for the position, front runner and former president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani showed up on the second day to sign up. Other politicians such mayor of Tehran, former chief of police, and various members of Majlis (parliament) paraded daily to file the necessary paperwork.
A young revolutionary teenager, Mohammad-Ali Delgardi, 19, sporting a jet black beard and rosy cheeks from a town in central Iran, said he was simply doing his religious duty by filing an application. When asked about his chances of becoming a presidential nominee, he left it up to God’s will.
Another applicant, a 60 year old woman, Kobra Ashori, seemed to be there of out retribution. Ashori, currently unemployed, but with years of experience in various industries, thinks of herself qualified and as someone who will stand up for women’s rights.
She justified her lack of political experience by saying “for close to 30 years these people with no understanding of government ran this country” referring to the leaders of the Islamic Republic, “I am sure I can do a better job than them.”
Ashori proclaimed, “We need a female president to look after our rights,” raising her voice slightly for others to hear, “I would proudly vote for a woman in this coming election”.
Majid Hashimi, 70, a silver haired retired man with a gentle grandfather demeanor thinks friends and family’s backing will win him the job. Hashimi says he has no money to run his campaign, nor did he have a clear platform, but was banking on those who love him and have encouraged him to run.
Shrugging off a reporter’s question, a young woman in her early 20’s, replied “I came here to file an application since I had nothing else to do” during an interview with the state-run TV, suggesting frustration of her generation’s lack of opportunity.
At another table a woman clad in a black chador and hejab (Islamic covering) reviewed her application before handing it in. 34 year old, Fatima Kianpour, a professor at Tehran University teaching management theory, seemed to be the most qualified applicant in this field of merchants, clergymen, bakers, unemployed, housewives, retired, students, and a male singer.
The record breaking 1,010 candidates includes 89 women, perhaps a small sign of progression and push by Iranian women for more freedom. The youngest candidate is a 16 year old boy, a legal age in the Islamic Republic of Iran, while the oldest is an 86 year old man.
On May 25, the Guardian Council will publish its approved list of candidates. Disqualifying the masses among those politically charged individuals and moderates, including those who may seek closer ties with the US.
A spokesperson for the council has already announced that the current process will be examined and revamped by the next election. Making a suggesting to change the application process to be more fitting for the office of the presidency. However, the Guardian Council will continue to be the ultimate voice in selecting those individuals who should run.
Ramin Talaie – Tehran, Iran