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Dashed hopes could keep Iranians from the ballot box

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:51s - Published < > Embed
Dashed hopes could keep Iranians from the ballot box

Dashed hopes could keep Iranians from the ballot box

A series of crises and a teetering economy have battered Iranians' confidence in their leaders, and now they have to vote in an election with mostly hardline choices.

Dashed hopes could foretell a low turnout.

Lucy Fielder reports.

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Dashed hopes could keep Iranians from the ballot box

Confrontation with the United States, economic hardship and Iran's shooting down of a passenger jet have battered Iranian's confidence in their leaders - and now they face an election with little real choice.

Dashed hopes and pervading gloom could keep Iranians away from the ballot box this Friday (February 21).

Allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have ensured hardliners dominate the field of parliamentary hopefuls.

A hardline vetting body, the Guardian Council, has disqualified about half of candidates, many of them moderates.

So even if turnout is low, security hawks seeking a stand-off with Washington could tighten their control of the legislature.

Student Erfan Aref says he probably won't vote.

(SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) UNIVERSITY STUDENT, 20, ERFAN AREF, SAYING (ASKED WILL YOU VOTE THIS ELECTION?): "I don't think so, because according to what I saw and I am seeing now, whoever I vote for, no matter how truthful he is, I just can't trust him." With little political choice, many voters are expected to focus on bread-and-butter issues.

(SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) PHD STUDENT, 28, HAMED AFGHAMI, SAYING: "The economic situation is extremely bad, (our) expenses are high, inflation is high, so the priority should be economic issues in my opinion." Four years ago, things looked different.

Pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani and his allies won big with an election pledge to ease social and political restrictions.

And many hoped a nuclear deal with world powers would end isolation and boost the economy.

But Rouhani disappointed reformists.

And the Trump administration has pulled out of the deal, imposed crippling sanctions and killed Iran's top general.

Iran's hardline leaders want to see crowded polling stations - signaling to arch-foe Washington that Iran is unbowed.

A meager turnout could rattle them and embolden critics at home and abroad.




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