in Tehran, disillusioned residents want to boycott the legislative elections


                                "Without my vote": in Tehran, disillusioned residents want to boycott the legislative elections 

                <p>"No way to go vote!". Like Pari, many Iranians say they want to abstain from the legislative elections on Friday to express their lack of confidence in the authorities and their weariness in the face of economic difficulties aggravated by the American sanctions.

“It’s difficult for everyone in Iran today and we can’t take it anymore … we want to send a message to the authorities,” said the 62-year-old resident of Tehran, forcefully. her daughter Kiana, 30, a psychologist who too intends to desert the ballot boxes.

Almost two years after Washington announced the reinstatement of economic sanctions, the hope of benefiting from the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of President Hassan Rohani has evaporated and the country is sinking into recession.

“There is no job, no future,” says Kiana, jet-black hair escaping from a scarf, met with her mother in an upscale shopping district in the north of the capital.

Even here, the inequalities are glaring: elegant women driving 4x4s rub shoulders with street vendors covered in dirt, their goods on the ground.

A child, shoe shine, sitting on the edge of an icy sidewalk, is ignored by motorbike deliverers of “Snapp food” (the local equivalent of Uber Eats) fighting against traffic jams to bring their lunch to fellow citizens more fortunate.

As much as their inability to revive the country’s economy and “keep their promises”, Kiana blames the leaders for their “lack of honesty”, recalling in particular that the authorities took three days to recognize that it was an Iranian gun shot down, “by mistake”, a Ukrainian airliner in early January.

Re-elected in 2017, President Hassan Rohani, a moderate conservative, had promised more social and individual freedoms and assured that the Iranians would benefit from his policy of rapprochement with the West.

  • Narrowed lives –

But the Tehranese confide their feeling of a life shrunk by inflation and the violent economic recession which followed the reinstatement of the American sanctions in 2018. For Pari, the “government should have better managed the impact (of these) sanctions” .

Further south in the city, at the Tehran bazaar, Amir Mohtasham, 38, unemployed for two years, believes he does not know enough about the candidates’ program, mostly from the conservative or ultra-conservative camp. “If nobody presents their plans or their program, why should I take part in the vote?”.

“These elections are in vain (…) I do not trust either the conservatives or the reformers. They just install ballot boxes and they want people to vote!”, He criticizes.

A few meters away, Mohammad, a 30-year-old carpet merchant, is much wealthier, but his opinion is similar: “We voted for Rohani with a dream, but we didn’t accomplish anything … there are too many lies. ” “If to vote is to legitimize, then it will be without my vote,” he asserts.

Other residents, from conservative or religious backgrounds, say they are determined to participate. “I will go to vote of course, but I don’t know who it is for,” said Hassan Ghole, 55, another vendor in the bazaar.

“Our deputies do what they can”, he judges, hoping that the future elected officials will work “to solve the problems of the youth”.

  • “Dissatisfaction” –

In the underprivileged district of Nazi Abad (south), Mrs. Shahverdi, a 38-year-old housewife, hidden under a chador, explains that she will vote, out of duty.

“From the point of view of our religion, it is important to go to vote, especially since our country is surrounded by enemies; and if we have faith in existence, then our economy will be fine,” launches- she.

But in this same district, young people do not hesitate to evoke their thirst for more freedoms. “I do not accept this system and I will not vote,” says Kamran Baluchzadeh. At 20, “I can’t even be carefree,” he laments, talking about the expenses he can’t manage and his concern about not being able to get married.

With fabric bags and a phone in hand, Pari Aghazadeh, 27, who works in fashion, does not go unnoticed in the neighborhood with her slender figure, her redone nose, her false nails and her ultra-made-up lips.

His opinion is also decided. “I don’t want to vote (…) because it won’t change our problems,” she said, accusing the government of bad governance.

“And also because this government, this system, does not care about women. We have no freedoms,” she said. By boycotting the ballot, “we can show our dissatisfaction”.


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