By: Kayhan Int’l Staff Writer
Iranian Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians headed to the polls at home and abroad on Friday in closely-contested elections to choose the country’s 12th president.
Expatriates also cast their ballots in the presidential and City Council elections at 310 polling stations in 102 countries. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei was among the first to cast his ballot. Speaking after casting his vote, the Leader said, "I thank God Almighty for the blessing of democracy, election, and popular participation. This is a great blessing.”
There are many reasons why Ayatollah Khamenei described the 2017 election as highly "important” and said the people are deciding their destiny:
-Iran is the only democracy in the Middle East that offers guarantees for either side of the political spectrum. That’s why, as maintained by Ayatollah Khamenei, "Even those who don’t believe in the system and the leadership come to the ballots.”
-Iran’s democracy is unique in that it offers its citizens a wider choice than just the two major parties – reformers and principlists. There is a range of alternative voices in the City Council elections in particular, which gives more people a voice.
-The election is an opportunity for further unity and progress, and to say no to foreign meddling in domestic affairs. If anything, the election belongs to the nation, and there is transparency on the part of the public and the authorities alike. The Friday vote will have profound consequences not just for Iran but for the region.
-The high turnout demonstrates that people are both interested in the results of their contributions and how such contributions affect major decisions. They believe that their participation will open a new and beneficial chapter ahead of them.
-Sovereignty and freedom are manifestations of political participation in the Iranian society which is also a sign of democracy that would promote independence among the nation. It will assist people to have a more positive and enthusiastic perspective towards life.
-As maintained by Ayatollah Khamenei, the only winner of the polls is the Iranian nation that once again passed the difficult test of demonstrating national unity and solidarity in the face of foreign threats, sanctions, and conspiracies. The Friday vote is set to shape the country’s future for a generation, potentially even more so than the previous elections, leading toward a higher quality of democratic governance.
In sum, all Iranians from different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds have the right to vote and to have their say on what they consider to be the most important priorities the elected government needs to focus on in their communities. That has always been the case since the 1979 revolution. In the process, the Islamic Republic has paved the way for all people, irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity, to have the democratic right to vote on how their country should be governed.
It is important that the world community puts this important history of the evolution of Iranian religious democracy into context and really values the hard fought right Iranians have to vote. It’s also important to understand that the people’s choice at the polling booth on Friday goes well beyond the next four years; that the choices they make today will have a significant impact on their lives and the lives of future generations.