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TEHRAN: With presidential elections just a week away, Iranians are divided over whether the election will address pressing economic issues and laws on compulsory hijab.
On June 28, Iranians will elect six candidates – five conservatives and a relatively reformist – to succeed Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.
The election comes at a time when Iran is grappling with economic pressures, international sanctions and the introduction of headscarves for women.
“They promise change, but they won’t do much,” said Hamid Habibi, a 54-year-old shop owner in Tehran’s bustling Grand Bazaar.
“I followed the debates and campaigns; they talk nice, but they need to back up their words with actions,” he said.
Despite the skepticism, Habibi plans to vote next week.
The candidates held two debates, each pledging to tackle the financial challenges affecting the country’s 85 million people.
“The economic situation is getting worse day by day and I don’t foresee any improvement,” said Fariba, a 30-year-old who runs an online store.
“No matter who wins, our lives will not change,” she said.

Others, like 57-year-old baker Taghi Dodangeh, are still hopeful.
“Change is certain,” he said, viewing voting as a religious duty and a national obligation.
But Jowzi, a 61-year-old housewife, raised concerns, particularly about the line-up of candidates.
“There is almost no difference between the six,” she said. “We cannot say that any of them belong to another group.”
Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates after disqualifying most moderates and reformists.
The main candidates include the conservative parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the ultra-conservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the only reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian.
Keshvar, a 53-year-old mother, plans to vote for the candidate with the strongest economic plan.
“Young people are struggling with economic hardships,” she said.
“Raisi tried, 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 under 49 percent — the lowest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for a high voter turnout.
Still, 26-year-old trader Mahdi Zeinali said he would only vote if the candidate proved to be a “real person”.
These elections come at a turbulent time, with a war raging in Gaza between Iran’s rival Israel and the Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, along with ongoing diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
Mandatory hijab laws remain controversial, particularly after mass protests sparked by the 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
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, resist the dress code.
Fariba expressed concern that after the election, “things will go back to where they were” and that young women will not be able to remove their headscarves.
Jowzi, an undecided voter who wears a veil, considers it a “personal” choice and opposes state interference.
“It doesn’t matter who becomes president,” she said.
“What matters is what they actually do. It doesn’t matter to me if they have a turban or not. They must act humanely.”

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