Iran presidential hopefuls to debate on TV tomorrow

Updated 30 May 2013
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Iran presidential hopefuls to debate on TV tomorrow

TEHRAN: The eight candidates running for Iran’s highest elected office are to take part in a televised debate tomorrow.
Campaigning for the June 14 presidential poll officially began last week after Iran’s electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, approved the eight — including several figures close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — from a field of nearly 700 would-be candidates.
But it has been mostly confined to short provincial tours and media appearances on state television and radio, rather than the street rallies by supporters of candidates in the 2009 presidential election that gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second four-year term. The Guardians Council has barred two would-be heavyweight candidates, moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad’s close ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.
The debate tomorrow, the first of three, is expected to take the form of a question and answer session, with Iran’s ailing and sanctions-hit economy expected to top the agenda.
The run-up to the 2009 election, which led to anti-regime protests over voter fraud charges, produced heated exchanges between Ahmadinejad and his pro-reform opponents, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, in live face-to-face debates on state television.
This year’s campaign has been low-key. Street rallies are banned, according to security officials, and candidates have yet to roll out election posters or banners, even in major cities.
“I have not yet received many orders to print posters or banners for the presidential election,” said Ali, 32, owner of a major printing house in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
“This is probably because there are so many of them. Many will withdraw and do not want to waste their money.”
The eight candidates comprise five conservatives, including top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, two moderates and a reformist.
Pre-recorded messages from candidates began to air on Saturday and have already roused controversy.
Mohsen Rezai, former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards and a conservative, had his speech censored as he spoke of a father who had lost three sons in the 1980s war against Iraq. Quoting the unnamed man, Rezai criticized raging inflation and high unemployment in the country, saying the father had threatened to commit suicide if the economy was not fixed.
Rezai’s controversial comments on “ethnic discrimination” were also edited out, media reports said.
The debate tomorrow, which could run up to four hours, is expected to provide a glimpse into candidates’ plans for the economy, which has been hit hard by international sanctions targeting Iran’s vital oil income over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.


Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

Updated 23 May 2018
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Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

  • Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week
  • The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has picked prominent ministers to run for parliament next month, strengthening the ruling AK Party’s chances of winning a majority but putting their future role in government into question, party officials say.
Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week by the party to run for parliament in the June 24 poll, where the Islamist-rooted AK Party faces a stiff challenge from an opposition alliance.
While boosting the list of candidates, the move could affect the shape of the future cabinet because lawmakers will not be able to hold ministerial posts under the new presidential system, unless they resign their seats.
The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force, but recent opinion polls have suggested it could struggle to win an absolute majority, even with the support of its nationalist MHP ally.
The latest fall in the lira, which has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, could also work against Erdogan if voters fear the government is pushing prices and the cost of living higher.
Erdogan is still widely expected to win the presidential election to be held the same day. While the presidency will take on greater executive authority afterwards, an opposition-controlled parliament could vote down legislation.
“Erdogan wants to win a parliamentary majority in this critical election with a strong list,” said one AK Party member running for parliament.
A survey by MAK pollsters, viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party, showed on Wednesday that the parliamentary race is absolutely balanced, with the AK Party together with the MHP winning exactly 50.0 percent. In the presidential vote, it saw Erdogan winning 51.4 percent.

MINISTERIAL CHANGES
The move to throw high profile ministers into the parliamentary race could have a major impact on the composition of next cabinet.
“Under normal circumstances, those who are in the (parliamentary) list will not be appointed ministers,” a senior AK Party official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal was not named as a parliamentary candidate, and three sources said he was expected to remain in the post-election cabinet.
However, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is expected to leave the cabinet and run for a mayoral office, the sources said, while the future of Mehmet Simsek, deputy prime minister with responsibility for the economy, was undecided.
Investors have been watching closely for signals about Simsek’s role. As a former investment banker in New York and London, he is seen as one of the most investor-friendly members of a government at odds with economic orthodoxy.
The Turkish lira, already one of the weakest emerging market currencies this year, has lost another 13 percent against the dollar since Erdogan said in London last week that he planned to take greater control of the economy and that the central bank would not be able to ignore signals from the new executive presidency.
“Erdogan will make the last call on Simsek. Although Simsek’s policies are sometimes criticized, everyone knows that it’s hard to replace him,” an AK Party official said.
Simsek congratulated those on the party’s parliamentary list on Tuesday, adding in a tweet: “Onwards, no stopping.”
Officials say economic management is expected to be overseen by one of five vice presidents in a cabinet made up of 14 ministers — down from the current 21.
The changes have not yet been finalized, however, and may not be completed before the election, one of the AK Party officials said.