Presidential Candidates in Iran Debate Challenging Issues in Final Showdown
TEHRAN (FNA)- The third and final round of debates among the presidential candidates in Iran focused on more challenging issues, including the main problems facing the country’s people.
The final debate of the 13th presidential elections in Iran was wrapped up with challenging issues raised by 7 presidential candidates on Saturday.
Presidential hopeful Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi said that his pending government would bring inflation rates below 5% in 4 years.
During the second phase of the third debate, he clarified the distribution system irregularities and countering middlemen, adding that all production and distribution processes should be managed.
The candidate said that his presidency would bring inflation below 5% in 4 years and solve the stock market problems.
Qazizadeh Hashemi added that the institutions could manage the market and that his team had 20 programs to change the situation.
He also said that the unemployment rate in Iran was increasing.
The candidate added that the public's concerns should be addressed as a first step and that the country's resources were being distributed incorrectly.
He also stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran had made good progress in defense and security but had problems in the economy.
Meantime, Ebrahim Rayeesi said that “controlling inflation is the most important problem which caused unemployment, poverty, inequality and migration as a result”.
He stated that the General Inspection Organization of Iran (GIO) had conducted serious investigations on health, and the results showed some mismanagement.
Rayeesi said that banks were one of the obstacles in production and that the government should deal with corruption.
"Reform, fighting against corruption, inefficiency, and discrimination, supporting the underprivileged, and boosting production and strengthening business are the priorities of my government," he said.
He added that the tax system needs to be reformed, and the tax on production units will be reduced from 25 percent to 10 percent.
Mohsen Mehralizadeh, another candidate, spoke about handling the capital market, saying that the only way to save the stock market was its independence.
Mehralizadeh stated that the stock exchange was one of the best markets for attracting capital, adding that the government intervened in the stock exchange last year and multiplied the stock price with the major shareholders, which benefited the major shareholders and harmed the people.
He emphasized that the government should only intervene in the stock market when it faces a crisis, and the market should enjoy an independent management.
In the second part of the third debate, Saeed Jalili said that it was possible to interact with the world in economy and trade, adding that the signing of the conventions was of no use to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He said the president should know that the foreign policy of the next 4 years should be "economy-oriented" and increasing exports.
Jalili stated that the average inflation rate in the world was 3.5 percent and that people were concerned about the lack of stability in the prices.
Mohsen Rezayee, another candidate, discussed youth issues, saying, "The country's problems have been solved wherever the youth were involved. The youth are the biggest capital of the country, and their problems must be solved."
Stating that the real and serious problem for his pending government, the government of "Action and Change", would be the US undertakings in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he added that his government would certainly take the JCPOA seriously.
Meantime, Abdol Nasser Hemmati stated that 50% of the country's population were women, who should be given equal opportunities.
He stressed that self-employed loans should be given to women.
"Unemployment would not be eradicated unless 5% economic growth is gained," he added.
Hemmati stated that investment in Iran was negative, adding that sanctions had upset the economic equations over the past decade, and some wanted Iran to be isolated in the world.
The atmosphere for the investment should be safe to achieve economic growth, he said.
Also, Alireza Zakani, another candidate, said that the first thing he would do about sanctions will be putting aside the current approach regarding lifting sanctions.
Zakani stated that domestic potentials and capabilities would be used to lift the sanctions and that there were many capabilities in the production.
He emphasized that the capacities of the region and the world would be used to lift the sanctions.
Zakani said that the most important issue concerned inflation, and in the first year of his government, he would reduce inflation to half.
The seven presidential candidates had also last Tuesday participated in a second showdown to express views and challenge each other on a wide range of social, political and cultural issues.
The debate, held on June 8, meagerly resembled the previous round of fiery openings and lightning attacks on rivals.
The second debate featuring all the seven candidates running in Iran’s 2021 presidential election was marked by less aggressive confrontations but also overly broad delineations of policy, in what some of the candidates blamed on the format of the debate.
Focusing on social gaps, Rayeesi said it is because of injustice.
The candidate emphasized that the gap is because of mismanagement in the economy and the decision making.
He believed the pricing method and monitoring production and consumption would lead to the elimination of social gaps.
Mehralizadeh, from the Reformist camp, said on Vienna talks and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Iran is on the right track.
US maximum pressure on Iran failed due to the resistance of Iranians, he said, adding that the rights of the Iranian people must be restored.
Meantime, Jalili, from the Revolutionary camp, called for a change in the behavior of politicians and political culture to gain the trust of people.
If the budget is not reformed and the banking supervision system is not taken seriously, it will be an obstacle in the country's progress, he added.
The difficulties could not be solved with slogans and promises because the problems have economic roots, Rezayee said.
"I have worked with all ethnic groups in my political life, and the Government of Action and Transformation will be formed of all Iranians. Hope is realized when new energy is released in society," he added.
Hemmati, another candidate from the Reformist-Moderate camp, said that monopoly in the economy, politics, culture, and media are the main cause of inefficiency and corruption.
He also stated that the competitive market has an important role in the development of the country. Still, the government has strong responsibilities in three areas: Health, education, and addressing the vulnerable classes.
"Salam Government" seeks to reform the bureaucracy, which is a big problem, Qazizadeh Hashemi, a Principlist candidate, highlighted.
Several Principlist candidates attempted to reject a Reformist accusation that they were running as mere “back-ups” for Ebrahim Rayeesi, the highest-profile candidate and the current head of the Judiciary. Mohsen Rezayee, a seasoned politician, said early in the debate that he would stick around until the end of the race and would not drop out in anyone else’s favor.
Also a recurrent theme was attacking and defending against Nasser Hemmati, until recently the governor of the Central Bank of Iran and the perceived representative of the President Hassan Rouhani administration. Hemmati is seen by the public and the opposite politicians as a major cause of economic flaws.
But the mood of the second debate was by far less confrontational than that of the previous round. And the candidates also responded to the questions put to them by the moderator more straightforwardly in this round.
Iranian presidential candidates wrapped up a second showdown on live television, days after a first debate on economy between two contrasting political views.
During the first showdown last Saturday, the five candidates associated with the Principlist camp attacked the eight-year performance of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, a Moderate in alliance with the Reformist camp.
In turn, the two other candidates, known as Reformists, pointed the finger of blame at the Principlists for worsening the country’s economic problems.
A poll held by the University of Tehran showed that 56% of people who watched the first debate believed that Rayeesi was the winner of the first showdown. Hemmati with 8%, Qazizadeh Hashemi with 6%, Jalili with 4%, Rezayee with 3%, Mehralizadeh with 3% and Zakani with 2% of votes ranked second to 7th in the first debate. Also 18% of people responded that they favored none of the candidates’ remarks or responded “I don’t know”.
The Iranian interior ministry on May 25 declared the names of 7 hopefuls qualified by Iran’s vetting body, the Guardian Council, to run in the presidential race.
The 7 approved candidates include Iran’s Judiciary Chief Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi, Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezayee, Iranian reformist politician and former Governor of Isfahan Province Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Saeed Jalili, Iranian Member of the Parliament Alireza Zakani, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati and Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Seyed Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi.
The disapproved candidates had the opportunity to protest at their disqualification vote and the qualified candidates can start their campaign as of May 25 until 24 hours before elections.
Several candidates, including former Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and former Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi, dropped out of the race in Rayeesi’s favor before the Guardian Council declared its decision on their qualification.
Rayeesi is known to be the favorite pick in this election after he gathered fame in systematic aide to the poor when he headed the Shiite Islam's 8th Imam, Hazrat Ali Ibn-e Moussa's endowment Institution, and then in fighting corruption during his present career as the Judiciary Chief. He was facing mounting calls by his supporters and associated political figures to join the 2021 presidential race, with a top body of Principlists now backing him as their top choice but he has declared himself as an independent candidate.
He served as attorney general from 2014 to 2016, and was deputy Judiciary chief from 2004 to 2014. He was also prosecutor and deputy prosecutor of Tehran in the 1980s and 90s.
Rayeesi became a household name in Iran in 2017 when he ran as a Principlist candidate in the presidential election. He lost the vote to Rouhani.
As the Judiciary chief, Rayeesi has launched a widespread anti-corruption campaign. He drew up laws to protect women against domestic violence.
The Constitutional Council — also known as the Guardian Council — is a body of Islamic and legal jurists that acts in many ways as a Supreme Court.
Half of the body’s 12 members are legal jurists. They are nominated by the head of the Iranian Parliament and put to the vote of the Parliament, while the rest are specialists in Islamic law, and are appointed by the country’s highest-ranking authority, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.
Membership in the Council is for phased six-year terms, which means half the membership changes every three years at random.
The Council affirms or rejects any interpretation of the law made in bills passed by parliament. The members sitting on the Council vet the compatibility of the legislation with the Constitution and its Islamic basis.
Any legislation rejected by the Council will be passed back to the Parliament, which will have to rewrite the proposed bill if it wants it to proceed with it. Disagreements between the two bodies are referred to the Expediency Council for a final decision.
Another one of the Council’s tasks is to supervise elections. All candidates standing for election and those for the Assembly of Experts — another supreme body — must secure the Constitutional Council’s approval before they can join the race.
Iran will simultaneously hold the 13th presidential election and the 6th City and Village Councils Elections on June 18.
The election in which voters will pick a president for a four-year term will be held as the country is still grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak.
As stipulated in the Constitution, the President is elected for a four-year term by direct vote, and is allowed only two successive terms, although he can run for a third nonconsecutive term.
To run for president, a candidate must satisfy six key qualifications outlined in the Constitution, namely being an Iranian national and of Iranian origin, having “administrative capacity and resourcefulness” besides a good past record and the qualities of trustworthiness and piety. The President must also have a firm belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islam, the official religion of the country.
Hopefuls need the approval of the Constitutional Council — a panel of six theologians and six legal experts — for running in presidential elections.
Presidents are elected with a majority of the vote. If no candidate manages to secure the threshold in the first round, a run-off is held between the two candidates that have received the most votes in the first round.
Under Article 113 of the Iranian Constitution, the President acts as the country’s chief executive and is responsible for implementing the law of the land “except in matters directly concerned with the office of the Leadership.”
Within the limits of his powers and duties, the President is responsible before “the people, the Leader, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly,” as the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) is formally called.
The President appoints ministers, subject to the approval of the Parliament.
The chief executive has the authority to sign agreements with other governments as well as those pertaining to international organizations, after securing parliamentary approval.
Ambassadors to other countries are also appointed upon the recommendation of the Foreign Minister and approval of the President, who also receives the credentials presented by the ambassadors of foreign countries.
The President is tasked with administering national planning, the budget, and state employment affairs.
In addition, he heads the Supreme National Security Council, which protects and supports national interests, the Islamic Revolution, and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, the President serves as the chairman of Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, a body set up after the 1979 Revolution to ensure the country’s education and culture remain Islamic and will not be influenced by other cultures and ideologies.