Charged up and preemptive, candidates face off in first presidential debate
Islam News – The candidates in Iran’s 2021 presidential election have held a first debate on live television, clashing over policy — and credentials — and offering roughly two divergent visions on how the country should be run.
The debate, the first of three and intended to focus on the economy, was held on Saturday (June 5) at state TV headquarters in Tehran, where authorities had ensured that everything — from questions to seating arrangements — was neutral toward all candidates.
But the preparations and the staging aside, it was a debate mainly between two political schools of thought, Reformism and Principlism, even though seven candidates are running. And almost all of the candidates were already charged-up, staging preemptive attacks on the perceived rival in anticipation of potentially powerful offensives.
That was exemplified most clearly in the inclination of most, though not all, of the candidates to speak as they saw fit rather than to respond directly to the questions put forth to them by the moderator.
‘The worthless key’
Principlist candidate Mohsen Rezaei, 67, became the first to attack the President Hassan Rouhani administration — the subject of frequent criticism as the debate progressed — by calling his 2013 campaign symbol of a key “worthless.” And Nasser Hemmati, 64, delivered fiery opening remarks by saying that “a majority” of the Iranian society, including women, had no representation among the candidates, an explicit appraisal of the disqualification of some Reformist figures by Iran’s Constitutional Council from running in the election.
Alireza Zakani, a 56-year-old and a relatively lower-profile Principlist, took Hemmati’s critiques the hardest. “Mr. Hemmati, you are not running against five people, you are running against 85 million people,” he said, in an attempted rebuttal of Hemmati’s complaint that the five Principlist candidates are ganging up against him. And the duo continued to clash until the end of the debate.
Source : Press TV