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Candidates Come Face To Face But Look Elsewhere

Karrubi (left) and Rezai (right)

Karrubi (left) and Rezai (right)

On June 2, reformist and conservative candidates, Mehdi Karrubi and Mohsen Rezai, held a televised debate, which was titled "Superior Election."

Since the two candidates are not fighting for the same votes, the debate looked more like an opportunity to get their messages across rather than a face-to-face clash between two rivals.

Both candidates focused on the economy and their intention on raising people’s living standards if elected to office.

Rezai went as far as promising an economic revolution in Iran. “My priority is the economy,” he said. “I intend to change the economy from a state-controlled one to one that sees significant private-sector participation.”

Karrubi sounded equally optimistic. He promised to issue oil stocks and distribute them to all Iranians above the age of 18.

Despite the generous promises, the debate wasn't exactly lively. And that seemed to be the consensus of many commentators.

In the comments section on the news website, “Suhail” wrote that “It was an interview, not a debate.”

“Bitaraf” wrote “I think the two candidates had made an agreement that they wouldn’t criticize each other.” (These comments were representative of many others expressed on Persian-language blogs and websites.)

Before the debate began the moderator warned that they cannot criticize the two other candidates, incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir Hossein Musavi.

Hopefully tonight's debate between Ahmadinejad and Musavi will be livelier. Ahmadinejad promised last week that he is going to present “dossiers” on previous governments, including the one led by Musavi in the 1980s.

If all goes as promised, sparks could indeed fly.

-- Farangis Najibullah