The elections have kicked off in Iran. The election campaign officially began at midnight last night. Although many reformists were finally qualified to enter the race, there still are many reformists totally excluded from the process. Many people believe this is unfair and unconstitutional. This morning we had a meeting in the City Council on ways that we could help to enhance voter turnout.Since the outcoing parliament has passed laws that have seriously restricted campaigning methods, we were discussing ways to engage people and particularly what could be done to create a more lively election process. There are many billboards in Tehran, now displaying the motifs belonging to different polictical parties and coalitions. The reformists have emphasized on improvement of economic indicators, fighting against backwardness, and improvement of relations with the international community. Reformists will provide a full 30 person list in Tehran although in some large cities they do not have a list due to the disqualification of their candidates. The principalists and supporters of the government have not been able to come to a full coalition. The reformists also have offshoots although the main strong nationwide coalition uses the acronym "Friends of Khatami" which is very meaningfull for the voters.
I had a live interview on the elections with Press TV this evening and I spoke about the characteristics of a democratic election . I mentioned the peacful shift of power from one political orientation to another to be one of the valuable indicators of democracy. I still think the major challenge we have ahead is an ethical challenge.But it is also a traffic challenge .
As we approach the final days of the year, traffic jams and conjested highways become a routine procedure in Tehran. In spite of dozens of new freeways and autobahns, since the number of cars has increased dramatically in parallel during the past years ,we are always in need of more room. I sometimes wonder and have brought up the question in the City Council on whether we are designing Tehran for cars or for human beings?
Before I forget let me say that I am leaving for Dubai early tommorow morning. I have an opening speech in the Global Business Women and Leaders Summit and another one in the Middle East Awards Ceremony. You can see the link here : http://www.woibex.com/agenda.asp