The Role of Foreign Policy and Women in Iran’s Elections
At CFR, Bernard Gwertzman interviews Iran expert, Farideh Farhi on the upcoming presidential elections. Farhi argues that foreign policy has crept its way into the presidential debate in an election season thought to be focused more on economic issues. “Foreign policy unexpectedly has become a very important issue in Iran and obviously centers on the argument that Mr. Ahmadinejad has been unduly provocative.” These elections are significant for U.S.-Iran relations as the candidates have “very clear policy differences in terms of how Iran’s foreign policy will be conducted.” While its hard to predict who will emerge the victor, Farhi argues that if Ahmadinejad does not garner 50 percent or more of the vote in the first round of elections his chance of winning in a second round run-off are greatly diminished.
Meanwhile, many are focusing on the important role of women in the June elections. The latest issue of the Iran Election Bulletin discusses ways in which candidates are working to attract the female vote. Masih Alinejad explains how security forces have relaxed the enforcement of Iran’s strict dress code and presidential candidates are all promising to appoint women to government positions. But some women activists believe this goodwill to be short lived, ending as soon as the election season is over.
And if Mir Hossein Mousavi wins, Iran may very well see its first “first lady.” His wife, Zahra Rahnavard is the first spouse to take on a major campaign role. At the Associated Press, Ali Akbar Dareini points out, “while the political power couple is a common fixture in the West, Rahnavard is rewriting the role of political spouse in conservative Iran…With her sharp wit and fluid oratory, [she] has fast become a political draw on her own, as well as an important asset to her husband’s campaign as the main pro-reform challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”