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TEHRAN: With presidential elections just a week away, Iranians are divided over whether the vote will resolve pressing economic issues and mandatory hijab laws.
Iranians will go to the polls on June 28 to choose from six candidates – five conservatives and one relatively reformist – to succeed Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.
In the run-up to the election, Iran is grappling with economic pressure, international sanctions and mandatory headscarves for women.
“They promise change but don’t do much,” said Hamid Habibi, a 54-year-old shopkeeper in Tehran’s bustling Grand Bazaar.
“I watched the debates and the campaigns; they talk nicely, but their words must be backed up with actions,” he said.
Despite Habibi’s skepticism, he will vote next week.
The candidates held two debates, each pledging to tackle financial challenges affecting the country’s 85 million residents.
“The economic situation is getting worse every day and I don’t see any progress,” said Fariba, a 30-year-old man who runs an online store.
“Regardless of who wins, our lives will not change,” he said.

Others, like 57-year-old baker Taghi Dodangeh, remain optimistic.
“Change is certain,” he said, calling voting a religious duty and a national obligation.
But Jowzi, a 61-year-old housewife, expressed her doubts, especially about the line-up of candidates.
“There’s hardly any difference between the six,” he said. “You can’t say that any of them belong to any other group.”
Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates after excluding most moderates and reformists.
Leading contenders include conservative parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Said Jalili and the only reformist candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian.
Keshvar, a 53-year-old mother, wants to vote for the candidate with the most robust economic plan.
“Young people are struggling economically,” he said.
“Raisi made an effort but on the ground things didn’t change much for the general public and they were unhappy.”
In the 2021 elections that brought Raisi to power, many voters stayed away, resulting in a turnout of just 49 percent, the lowest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is calling for a high turnout.
But 26-year-old shopkeeper Mahdi Zeinali said he would only vote if a candidate proved to be a “right person”.
The election comes at a tumultuous time, with the Gaza war between Iran’s adversary Israel and the Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, as well as ongoing diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
Mandatory hijab laws remain controversial, especially since mass protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody in 2022.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s dress code, which requires women to cover their heads and necks and wear modest clothing in public.
Despite increased enforcement, many women, especially in Tehran, defy the dress code.
Fariba expressed concern that after the elections, “things will go back to the way they were” and young women will not be able to remove their headscarves.
Jowzi, an undecided voter who wears a headscarf, sees it as a “personal” choice and opposes state intervention.
“It doesn’t matter who the president is,” he said.
“What is important is what they actually do. I don’t care if they have turbans or not. They should behave humanely.”

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