His is a particular perspective: He is a PhD student (“Study of Human Resources Management”), and he spent two years in Manchester, England, “where I experienced freedom.” Yet abstention could be the choice of many.
Lawyer Marzieh Mohebbi says: “For Rouhani, the real danger are the many undecided. And the disappointed.” He welcomes us in her office in Mashad, in the northeast of the country, about 10 hours by train from Tehran.
On her large desk, dozens of folders are maniacally aligned. They are the court cases of “unjustly” imprisoned women, which are being carried out by 200 female lawyers of the NGO she heads, Soura. “People are disillusioned, tired of politics,” Mohebbi adds. And tired of Rouhani.
The president based his entire campaign on the nuclear agreement. But the promised benefits are slow to arrive. The economy is growing at around 5 percent per year, oil production rose to 2.5 million barrels a day, and inflation has dropped from 35-40 percent, during President Ahmadinejad’s tenure, to 10 percent now. But the cost of living keeps going up. So does unemployment, now at 13 percent, with even higher figures for women. And among young people, it is 65 percent of the population.
In Marzieh Mohebbi’s opinion, Rouhani should be supported, however: “These are crucial elections. We have to defend a phase that began four years ago.” The director of Soura blames the previous administration and the international context for the lack of success: “That poorly led government lasted eight years, during which the country was almost brought to ruin, but also foreign countries bear some responsibilities, because they applied unjust sanctions.” For her, the economic well-being “is generated by world peace,” and Rouhani’s most important contribution was to “promote the idea that diplomacy is more useful than conflict.”
She doesn’t hide the fact she will support him. But she acknowledges and fears the strength of the challenger Raisi, who is going up in the polls.