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On Election Day, Iran Chooses Between Gradual Reform And Conservative Return

Iranian women expel their ballots for a presidential elections during a polling hire during a Lorzadeh mosque in southern Tehran on Friday.

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Iranian women expel their ballots for a presidential elections during a polling hire during a Lorzadeh mosque in southern Tehran on Friday.

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

What disproportion does it make who’s boss of Iran?

It’s satisfactory to ask a doubt on this weekend of Iran’s presidential election. After all, a president’s pretension creates him sound like a tip official, yet he is not. Iran’s autarchic leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, binds distant some-more power.

Still, a choosing of Hasan Rouhani to Iran’s presidency in 2013 done a difference. Iranian electorate decisively announced that they wanted some-more honesty to a world. And while a people don’t have a final word in Iran — Khamenei gets that — Iran’s Shiite Muslim ecclesiastic investiture had to listen in sequence to safety a possess legitimacy. Rouhani done a chief understanding with a West. And now Iranians confirm if they wish to keep relocating in his direction.

Technology, communications uncover signs of change

During 5 days in Iran, we looked for signs of how Rouhani altered a nation in his initial term. They were subtle. Despite a play of a chief understanding abroad, it’s ordinarily pronounced that Rouhani unsuccessful to move larger leisure during home. Our stating found a some-more formidable picture: In a deficiency of large steps, resisted by a ecclesiastic establishment, Rouhani took tiny ones.

A mural of Iranian boss Hasan Rouhani hangs in a debate bureau in Tehran. Iranians opinion now on possibly to give another 4 years to a boss who done a chief understanding with a U.S.

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A mural of Iranian boss Hasan Rouhani hangs in a debate bureau in Tehran. Iranians opinion now on possibly to give another 4 years to a boss who done a chief understanding with a U.S.

Kevin Leahy/NPR

Some writers and reporters feel some-more free. There is still no such thing as an American-style pledge of a giveaway press, yet reform-minded newspapers, many of that were sealed in new years, have restarted. Journalists who were once jailed are out. We chatted with one of them, Maryam Majd, a photojournalist arrested for several weeks in 2011. She’s now origination a documentary film about an Iranian womanlike film director.

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There is also freer communication. Rouhani’s supervision actively upheld a thespian enlargement of 3G and 4G cellphone use opposite most of a country. The softened information use has altered daily life, according to Alireza Sadeghian, a CEO who oversees half a dozen Internet businesses.

“Once 3G comes, a enlightenment changes,” he says. “The fact that we have Internet on a travel creates we most some-more dependant to your phone, creates we download most apps, use most some-more apps, creates we use record most some-more … we don’t like it!” Sadeghian combined with a giggle — even yet it’s good for business. It’s also, by a way, good for a Internet domestic review — most of that tends to preference Rouhani and reform, and finds a approach online even yet some amicable media platforms are blocked.

A some-more discernible outcome of this tech ascent is manifest in Tehran kitchens, like that in a unit of Maral Mohamedzadeh. She’s a housewife who cooks dual dozen lunches per day — and sells them to business around a Internet. She’s partial of a business called Mamanpaz, that works with dozens of housewives to broach tangible home-cooked dishes to businesses. People place orders online; a cooks are connected to them by a mobile phone app. The business is a origination of Tabassom Latifi, who’s 31, and started a business early in Rouhani’s term.

Maral Mohamedzadeh prepares food during her home for Mamanpaz, an classification that works with dozens of housewives to broach home-cooked dishes to businesses.

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And afterwards there’s Kourosh Qadiri, who works for another Internet business: He’s a motorist with an Iranian homogeneous of ride-hailing services like Uber. In Tehran one such business is called Snapp, and Qadiri, a college student, creates additional income driving. Indirectly, then, he advantages from Rouhani’s tech-friendly government, nonetheless he told us he is not a fan of a president: He opposes Rouhani’s chief deal.

The some-more things stay a same

There is also a lot that did not change in Rouhani’s initial term, as we listened when we left Tehran for a most smaller city of Qazvin.

Ringed by factories, it’s both an industrial city and a ancestral site, home of a 1,200-year-old mosque that had once been a Zoroastrian temple. It’s also home of a centuries-old caravanserai, a kind of hotel and fast where camel caravans would stop to rest centuries ago.

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Today a caravanserai has turn a kind of upscale bazaar. In a arched section passageways, we met Ashran, a 20-year-old college tyro who was deeply asocial about Iran’s government, that he felt was usually out to control him. A circuitously shopkeeper summed adult his possess skepticism: “The people live for themselves, and a supervision lives for itself.”

Rouhani’s chief understanding has influenced a economy: a lifting of sanctions dramatically increasing oil production, and done probable new business deals like Iran’s merger of Boeing airplanes.

Yet he hasn’t brought down unemployment. The severe economy was clear in a Qazvin genuine estate office, where a brokers told us that a few years ago they were offered 15 or 20 houses per month, yet now usually dual or three. In fairness, this might also be a pointer of progress: A few years ago, Iranians were desperately putting their income into genuine estate, anticipating to burst before acceleration done their income worthless.

Now President Rouhani has brought down inflation, yet he slowed a economy while doing so. His record is churned adequate that his critics had no difficulty bringing out a throng for a convene in a Qazvin suburb on Wednesday, a final central night of campaigning.

A child waves an Iranian dwindle during a convene in Qazvin on Wednesday for a regressive minister Ebrahim Raisi, a presidential claimant graphic on a boy’s shirt.

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A child waves an Iranian dwindle during a convene in Qazvin on Wednesday for a regressive minister Ebrahim Raisi, a presidential claimant graphic on a boy’s shirt.

Kevin Leahy/NPR

Some during a convene feared Rouhani has altered too much. One was Mehdi Mohammad Khani, a ecclesiastic student, who wants to strengthen a order of Iran’s autarchic leader. Nearby, a 17-year-old pronounced he feared Rouhani would inspire boys and girls to have sex.

In reality, a dignified and amicable codes of a Islamic Republic sojourn radically as they were. Not usually do some women chafe during a requirement that they cover their hair — many wish for equal diagnosis in a workplace, and changes to divorce laws that now preference men. In Tehran, we met Maryam Abdi and Sagedeh Kianooshrad. They were operative in a debate bureau ancillary Rouhani even yet he has not delivered on their issues. They feel he is their best hope.

In a end, 4 years of play came down to a singular choice for millions of Iranians: possibly stay a march with Rouhani, or try a new instruction with a some-more regressive challenger, Ebrahim Raisi. On Friday, they noted their paper ballots and forsaken them in cosmetic boxes. They will select a personality who will face President Trump’s administration as it works to vigour Iran — and that same personality will face vigour from both sides of Iran’s informative order during home.

NPR’s Kevin Leahy, Arezou Rezvani and Ayda Pourasad contributed to this report.