Alborz Habibi
Last updated: 31 December, 2012

Tehranis consider economic woes top priority, but interest in elections is low

Most of Tehran’s residents consider economic affairs as the top priority for the next Iranian government, with less than half of them saying they would cast a ballot in the upcoming elections, according to a rare opinion poll conducted by the Semi-official Mehr news agency.

Almost 47 percent of the 1,246 participants who participated in the poll, which was conducted on December 13, said they are certain or highly likely to vote in the elections. Some 13 percent of them said they haven’t made up their mind yet, while nearly one third (31.9 percent) stated they would certainly not participate.

Iranians are due to vote for a new president on June 14, with economic problems, the nuclear program and foreign policy issues expected to dominate the vote. It will be the first time Iranians elect a president since the disputed 2009 election that followed months of unrest and street protests against the re-elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when the opposition talked of “mass vote-rigging”. Over 85 percent of eligible voters participated in that election, making it the highest voter turnout in decades.

According to the Mehr news agency poll, half of the respondents believed economic woes are currently the biggest challenge facing the country. Meanwhile, 17.2 percent of them said unemployment is the most important issue in the country.

Less than half of the Tehranis follow election news through state TV and seven percent through foreign media. However, one out of five participants declined to comment, Mehr reported.

In a live interview broadcasted on the state TV last week, President Ahmadinejad called for free elections and said elections change both the international and internal scene and renovate a new spirit.

“Election belongs to the people and in my opinion we should have a vote full of passion,” he said. “For instance, if 49 million were eligible to vote, we should have 49 million voters at the same time.”