Presidential Vote Offers Choice Between Progress, Tension

Presidential Vote Offers Choice Between Progress, TensionPresidential Vote Offers Choice Between Progress, Tension

A pro-reform activist described the upcoming presidential election as a referendum that pits the progressive policies of incumbent moderate President Hassan Rouhani against those advocated by his conservative challengers.

"The vote offers the people a choice between continued development and progress or the revival of international tensions," Ali Shakourirad was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Saturday.

He was addressing a pro-Rouhani conference to discuss the second live TV debate on Friday featuring the six hopefuls campaigning for the May 19 poll. The heated debate featured clashes over a gamut of domestic and foreign policy issues between Rouhani, Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri and former reformist-minded industries minister Mostafa Hashemitaba and their rival conservatives, namely Tehran Mayor Baqer Qalibaf, Ebrahim Raeisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) and ex-culture minister, Mostafa Mirsalim.  

Rouhani's critics have rapped Rouhani's reformist agenda to open the society and facilitate broader engagement with the West.

They have particularly targeted the nuclear deal Rouhani's administration clinched with major powers to secure sanctions relief in return for curtailing the scope of Iran's nuclear activities.

Conservative candidates have been vocal in their criticism of Rouhani, claiming that he failed to capitalize on the nuclear breakthrough for bringing about an economic recovery. Their campaigns have spotlighted Rouhani's economic record, especially a massive job deficit and an entrenched social divide. Qalibaf has vowed to increase cash handouts to the people under the Subsidy Reforms Plan and create 5 million jobs, if he is elected to run the executive branch for the next four-year term.

Shakourirad questioned those pledges as false and beyond a president's mandate.

"[Qalibaf] is attempting to sway the underprivileged by making tempting promises. They are made out of dishonesty and fall outside Qalibaf's purview [as a prospective president]."

He was echoing a call by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani demanding that candidates avoid making promises concerning cash handouts, as the decision rests with the legislature.

Qalibaf has launched an employment service platform to appeal to millions of jobless people, some of whom are disappointed with Rouhani.

Shakourirad also questioned the credentials of Raeisi, another main challenger to Rouhani, saying, "He has no distinguished background … Nobody could have anticipated only a year ago that he would be nominated for a minister's post let alone the presidency."



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