Iranian Presidential Candidates Preaching Change, Too
The opposition candidates are also worried about the future, even if they are not elected. Rezai said Ahemadinejad's reelection could "throw the country into the abyss." This could be interpreted as meaning that the regime itself could be endangered.
Ahmadinejad's foreign policy is not the only cause of concern. His economic policies have caused huge damage, increasing Iran's need to open up to the West. Iran needs investment and expertise, more so now than before. Mehdi Karoubi, the former speaker of the Majles, said: "The 200,000 letters which Ahmadinejad receives on provincial trips are not love letters. They show the sheer number of problems which people have."
The reformists have backed such statements, with Mousavi asking a number of questions regarding the oil income. As Iran's prime minister from 1981-1989, Mousavi ran the country with $7 billion in yearly income. But Iran took in $60 billion last year, and Mousavi, along with his supporters, wants to know where the money went.
The reformists are also enraged by Ahmadinejad's populist overtures -- such as holding potato giveaways in order to garner votes. "Death to the government of potatoes!" has become a standard chant among anti-Ahmadinejad reformists.
So far, Ahmadinejad has focused on Iran's achievements with its nuclear program and within its defense industry, which was able to successfully place a satellite in orbit. He has also focused his ire on the Khatami administration for suspending uranium enrichment in 2005, an agreement and rapprochement which Ahamadinejad found humiliating.
In a recent interview, Ahmadinejad additionally defended his Holocaust remarks: "The west uses the Holocaust as a tool to oppress others. We targeted the Holocaust and they can't believe that we did this, because we targeted their weak spot. They can now see that Iran carries the same weight as the U.S. in international dealings." To Ahmadinejad, breaking bonds and accords with the West is the best way to secure Iran's future.
Although Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei determines the general direction of Iranian foreign policy, the U.S. would be forgiven for interpreting an Ahmadinejad loss as a sign that Khamenei is after a change in direction of Iran's policies. If Ahmadinejad wins, we should expect the status quo or worse. Ahmadinejad could interpret a victory as a sign of stronger backing from Khamenei. Worse still, as Iranian law dictates that Ahmadinejad cannot stand for three consecutive elections, he will have little incentive to act in a less radical manner.