‘It’s easier to live in Iran without thinking about politics’

Ian Black reports: Even the most optimistic estimates say that reformists and moderates – once distinct terms that are now blurred – are unlikely to take more than 80 seats [in Friday’s parliamentary elections]. “We are not going to have a carnival,” concedes Mohammed Ali Vakil, a leading reformist candidate. “But a lot of people will vote for us. They will be calm, but they will surprise us.”

Sadegh Zibakalam, a political scientist who is campaigning for the reformist alliance, agrees. “I am excited,” he told the Guardian by phone while getting the vote out in Khuzestan in the south-west. “If we can persuade 10%-20% of undecided voters to overcome their indifference and go to the polling stations then there could be a historic outcome. Conservative voters are determined and will definitely vote. It’s the reformists who are undecided.”

Apathy is a huge problem, however. “I voted for the revolution when I was a young man, and that was it,” shrugged Hassan, a burly 60 something driver stuck in the traffic around the capital’s Ferdowsi Square. “Why should I bother now?”

The cynicism is just as strong in the leafy north Tehran suburb of Jamaran, where Ayatollah Khomeini lived. “If you are educated you never vote because you would just make a fool of yourself,” said Negin, a young dentist smoking shisha with four friends – their loose headscarves, makeup and fashionable clothes and boots a reminder of far-reaching social changes of recent years. “It’s easier to live in Iran without thinking about politics,” sighed Melina, a designer. [Continue reading…]

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