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TEHRAN: With just a week to go before the presidential election, Iranians are divided over whether the vote will resolve pressing economic issues and mandatory hijab laws.
Iranians go to the polls on June 28 to choose from six candidates — five conservatives and a relative reformist — to succeed Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.
The election comes as Iran struggles with economic pressures, international sanctions and the implementation of compulsory 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 watched the debates and the campaigns; they speak well, but they should back up their words with action,” he said.
Despite the skepticism, Habibi plans to vote next week.
The candidates held two debates, each promising to address the financial challenges affecting the country’s 85 million residents.
“The economic situation is getting worse every 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 Tagi Dodange, are still hopeful.
“Change is certain,” he said, seeing voting as a religious duty and a national obligation.
But Jovzi, a 61-year-old housewife, expressed her doubts, especially about the line-up of candidates.
“There’s hardly any difference between the six,” she said. “It cannot be said that any of them belong to another group.
Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates after disqualifying most moderates and reformists.
Among the leading candidates are the conservative Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Bagher Ghalibaf, the ultra-conservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the only reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian.
Keshwar, a 53-year-old mother, intends to vote for the candidate with the strongest economic agenda.
“Young people are struggling with economic hardship,” she said.
“Raisi made an effort but on the pitch 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 just under 49 percent – the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for high voter turnout.
Still, 26-year-old shopkeeper Mahdi Zeinali said he would only vote if the candidate proved to be a “real person”.
The election comes at a turbulent time, with the Gaza war raging 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, especially after mass protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in 2022.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s dress code for women, who are required 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 her concern that after the elections “things will go back to their place” and that young women will not be able to remove their headscarves.
Jovzi, 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.” I don’t care if they have a turban or not. They have to behave humanely.”

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