Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shopping in Tehran After the Elections

You can smell spring in the air now in Tehran. As we approach the final days of the Iranian year and Nowrooz, momentum for last minute chores and shopping is high. Shopping centers and particularly the Bazaar or the traditional trade hub in Tehran have been very busy. Employees and workers usually receive an additional pay or what we call eidi, on the occasion of the new year and that is when spending becomes indispensable. The prices ,have been however, soaring with no end to this trend in sight. Although the government and state media try to down play the drastic effects inflation has on the livelihoods of people particularly those living in the larger cities. Many predict that prices will jump even higher next year.
The state media announced the final election results for Tehran and the rest of the country. As predicted , the conservatives won over 60% of the seats with no difficulty or competition, as their major rivals had been barred from standing. In the remaining seats the reformists and independent candidates won over 50% of the seats. In Tehran, contrary to the City Council elections last year, where reformists won 25% of the seats (4 out of 15), people were baffled to see that the reformists were left behind in numbers and none won in the first round where 19 conservatives(principlists) including many supporters of the government came ahead.The rest (11) will remain until runoff elections are held next month. The reformists have placed their objection to the voting process and have serious doubts on the accuracy of the counts and many have called for a recount of the votes. No reformist representatives in Tehran for the time being, other than us in the City Council!
I had a live interview with Sahar Television channel last night and they asked me whether I considered the elections to be a fair play on level grounds. I told them the elections were very difficult for the reformists. They faced all forms of challenges and obstacles and in many respects they felt they were treated unfairly. From the ethical point of view the Principlist government could have done better in keeping to its "principles", however they proved that clinging on to power is a priority for which principles could be overlooked.
Nevertheless, many observers believe that the ultimate alignment in the eighth Parliament will be between the supporters of the current government and its opponents.In that case there will be a strong coalition among the reformists and the more moderate principlists on important issues such as economic and social policy. That could bring about some of the change for the better that so many Iranians wish to see. Well, we have to wait and see....

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