Presidential Candidates Vie for Youth Vote||
As part of Iran's presidential election this June, both reform candidates
and their conservative rivals are hoping to win over youth voters who make up
more than half the country's population.
Voting in one of Iran's most heated presidential elections ended Friday with
the ultra conservative former mayor of Tehran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning over
the country's top reform candidate and former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
Iran's Interior Ministry announced.
two men, who were competing in a runoff vote, were among seven candidates vying
to lead the conservative Islamic republic.
During the election, President
Bush condemned the process as flawed and lacking "the basic requirements
U.S. officials blame Iran's ultra conservative Guardian
Council -- the country's powerful governing body made up of Islamic clerics --
for disqualifying more than 1,000 candidates from the race, including all women
and critics of the current government.
Over 55 percent of Iran's
eligible voters went to the polls, according to the Interior Ministry. Many of
the voters were young people below the age of 25 who make up half of Iran's total
population. The minimum voting age in Iran is 15.
Because so many of the
country's eligible voters are young, nearly all the presidential candidates infused
their campaigns with slogans and images geared toward the youth vote.
who served as president twice before from 1989 and 1997 and who was once considered
a hard-line conservative, touted social reform as part of his campaign. He hired
popular Iranian filmmaker Kamal Tabrizi to help legitimize his image among young
voters. Tabrizi's last film, The Lizard, was a spoof on Iran's clergy.
you're looking for an election film then definitely any aspect that connects you
to the people is crucial," Tabrizi told the BBC.
spent the final days of the campaign passing out Rafsanjani election stickers,
playing loud music -- under normal circumstances an activity that is banned in
Iran -- and handing out copies of a CD created especially for Rafsanjani's campaign,
the BBC reported.
A second candidate, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, appeared in
a campaign film flying a passenger plane to appeal to young voters.
The low turnout rate was disappointing to some Iranian officials, who have
been fighting a high rate of voter apathy -- a reluctance to get involved in politics
-- among many of the country's young people.
Some activist groups, led by
Tehran's mainly student-run reform movement, have even called for a boycott of
the election. They claim promises made by the outgoing President Mohammad Khatami
went unfulfilled following his election.
is known for its suppression of free speech -- many independent newspapers have
been closed by the Guardian Council.
The religious government is also known
for throwing political dissidents in jail and for limiting the rights of women.
In Iran women enjoy few powers, are not allowed to run for office and can be stoned
to death for committing crimes including adultery.
As mayor of Tehran,
Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani's main opponent, instituted policies of gender segregation,
calling for women and men to take separate elevators in government buildings.
Compiled by Kristina Nwazota for NewsHour Extra