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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 01:13 GMT 02:13 UK
Iranian press hails expected high turnout
Young Iranians show their support for President Mohammad Khatami
Eager participants in Iran's democratic process
With campaigning officially over on the eve of election day, Iran's conservative and pro-reform press offered different perspectives on the significance of the presidential election.

But most papers agreed that the high turnout expected on the basis of opinion polls represented a vote of confidence in the strength of Iranian democracy.

Each vote cast by the people tomorrow will be like an arrow directed into the enemy's heart

In an editorial entitled "A vote for the stability of the state", the conservative paper Kayhan said such a turnout would be a great disappointment to Iran's detractors, as it would demonstrate the people's complete identification with their country's political system.

"Once again tomorrow, the enemy's wishes will be foiled. Once again the enemy's evil expectations will be neutralised, as the vigilant people of Iran rush to the polling stations," Kayhan said.

"The people's extensive and enthusiastic turnout in the elections will prove that their bonding with the Islamic Republic is unbreakable. Each vote cast by the people tomorrow will be like an arrow directed into the enemy's heart."

Anxious times

However, the pro-reform daily Nowrooz suggested that the main force driving the Iranian people to the polls was likely to be fear that the reforms instigated by President Mohammad Khatami could be halted.

"The presidential elections tomorrow will turn into an arena for testing a new strategy that the opponents of the reforms have chosen in order to disarm their rivals," the paper said.

"But tomorrow the people of Iran will demonstrate how they are going to deal with their main anxiety and who they consider worthy of the peoples' vote to combat this anxiety," it added.

Time to deliver

In an editorial entitled "The day of mass participation and epic", the moderate daily Siyasat-e Ruz served notice that the time for words would soon be over.

"The people expect the future government, which will be running the country for four years, to show dynamism and pragmatism. The people are tired of empty slogans which play with their emotions," it warned.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Will he be the people's choice?
The English-language Iran Daily expressed the hope that political differences would be set aside once the election was over, and that all factions would work together for the good of the people.

"Healthy political rivalry is a fundamental democratic concept. But political parties should not confuse rivalry with asserting their own agendas or personal gain on the political landscape," the paper said.

"It is obvious that effective resolution of the people's problems is possible only when all political entities work together in unison... Hopefully, June 9 will herald a new vision for national solidarity," it added.

'Un-Islamic' publicity

However, the conservative Tehran Times warned that a close-run result would highlight the precarious state of the reform process backed by the Second of Khordad Front - named after the day in 1997 when Mr Khatami became president by a landslide.

"For the Second of Khordad Front, defeat or slim victory over independent candidates will be very humiliating," it said.

Extravagant publicity runs counter to the standards of the Islamic system, as it is a phenomenon imported from the West

Tehran Times
The paper also highlighted what it considered to be the two main shortcomings of the election campaign - the candidates' unwillingness to enter into public debate, and the reliance on glossy publicity material.

"All the candidates made lots of promises to the public. Therefore, debates could have put the feasibility of those promises to the test," it said.

"Unfortunately, some candidates did not conform to the standards of the Islamic system, as was expected from them by the public.

"Some indulged in extravagant publicity, wasting lots of money on colourful posters and glossy paper brochures.

"Surely, extravagant publicity runs counter to the standards of the Islamic system, as it is a phenomenon imported from the West."

These quibbles aside, the Tehran Times was confident that the election result would testify to the "political vigilance and maturity of the Iranian people".

"The Iranian people across the country will massively go to the polls tomorrow to vote for the next president of the Islamic Republic and open a more brilliant chapter in the history of their country," the paper concluded.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

07 Jun 01 | Middle East
Khatami supporters push for votes
14 May 01 | Middle East
Press caught in a power struggle
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