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A path to change or more of the same?

The level of debate in the run-up to Friday's presidential poll has surprised even the hard-line president.


“The streets become almost deserted when candidates are debating on TV, and moments after, they turn into carnivals,” he says. “I was traveling from Vali Asr street to Sattari today (both main routes in Tehran), and the other side of the highway was blocked because of supporters,” he adds.

Still, others view this "energy" ephemeral and without any real meaning. According to  Abdulkarim Soroush, a prominent philosopher and intellectual, elections in Iran are not the only solution to the problems. “What the media focuses more in Iran and abroad, is the fact that there is an election going on in Iran,” he says, “but does that mean that there is real democracy?”

Turning green 

Meantime, campaigning tactics also seem more inspired. Mousavi has adopted the term "green," which has a different connotation in Farsi than in English. The color, rather than meaning environment-friendly, symbolizes rebirth, and that is what his campaign is promising: a political rebirth. The color also carries religious weight and is typically worn by people from the Prophet Mohammad’s lineage.

Mousavi besides being a politician is a painter and architect. He has showed a soft side in political campaigning by choosing a color theme, and many across the country are obviously taken with it. International news media reporting on public rallies show thousands of Mousavi supporters swathed in the color. The Mousavi campaign has also benefited from the use of social media, like Facebook. 

Iran's women weigh in

A major turning point in this campaign has been the controversial presence of Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife, who has appeared at his side at nearly all public engagements. Rahnavard was also the first woman to hold the position of chancellor of Al Zahra university in Iran.

In Iran, religious leaders and prominent figures prefer not to put their wives in the spotlight. Ahmadinejad’s wife has rarely been seen during her husband’s presidency. Even Mohammad Khatami, considered the most moderate post-Revolution president, shielded his wife from view.