The first in a series of debates between the running candidates for the presidency of Iran took place, and impressions of this debate are relevant. The six candidates (president Rouhani, former vice president Hashemitaba, Tehran mayor Ghalibaf, vice president Jahangiri, cleric Raisi, former culture minister Mirsalim) took the stage for a live televised debate on Iranian state TV. The foreign media took great interest in this debate, and a summary of the media coverage is due.
The washingtonpost and other media outlets noted that the conservative cleric, Raisi, regarded as Khomenei’s favorite, did not do well, describing it as a “poor performance” lacking charisma. It is still not clear if that is significant enough to kill his candidacy. The washingtonpost puts forth the assumption that such debates can make or break a candidacy. A further observation is the fact that although Iranian presidents are usually guaranteed a second term, and despite the fact that Rouhani did deliver on the nuclear deal and engagement with the West, it would seem that the fight is genuine and his second term is in jeopardy. They also observe that it would seem that Rouhani’s primary rival is the conservative mayor Ghalibaf. A further observation was the fact that it would seem that Jahangiri was the most impressive of the lot, although it is assumed that he is just a shadow contender who will withdraw in favor of Rouhani.
Bloomberg coverage of the debate came to the conclusion that it’s all economics and social challenges, with a focus on unemployment, shortage of affordable housing and inequality. Rouhani was forced to defend his economic performance, but his responses “were not sharp and to the point”. They agree that Jahangiri was the surprise for the good, and Raisi disappointed.
It takes al-monitor to start drawing the big picture conclusions from the debate, summarizing that the result is a bleak picture of the situation in Iran. Poverty, unemployment and corruption as central themes.
What is lacking and amiss in the different coverages of the debate are the overall conclusions. Except for al-monitor, they all seem to miss the elephant in the room. The fact that the Islamic revolution in final analysis is a failure. The Islamic revolution was geared to improve the life of the individual, and it dismally failed. They all neglect to relate to the insignificance of presidential elections in Iran. While discussing minute details of the debate, they ignore the fact that the candidates have been pre-screened, in such a way, that anyone who is elected is in real a puppet of the supreme leader, who holds all power and say in foreign policy and security matters. It is like fish arguing in a fishpond, unaware of the ocean and the sea out there.