Iranian President, Rouhani is attributed with pulling the economy back from the brink, but less than two months before his re-election bid, has he done enough to convince voters?
Ali Bakhtiyari, a jeweller in the Tajrish bazaar of northern Tehran said This year was full of stress — no jobs, recession, a stagnant housing market.”
He told to the reports that “The government is trying to unlock things, but four years have passed. The locks should have been opened by now.”
These statements have been heard everywhere in the streets of Iran and weigh heavy on Rouhani´s bid for re-election in May.
According to Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated “What has been done is far from the expectations of the people and the supreme leader.” Khamenei said in his Nowruz address, focusing particularly on the unemployment rate which stands at 12 percent, and at over a quarter for young people.
Even after lot of criticism, mostly experts say Rouhani, a moderate cleric who won power in 2013 by promising to rebuild ties with the West and ease social pressures, has done about as much as he could.
Rouhani inherited an economy crippled by sanctions and the unconstrained spending of his populist predecessor, Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Rouzbeh Parsi, director of the European Iran Research Group expresses his views by saying that “I´d give Rouhani good grades. He hasn´t done everything, but he´s brought down inflation, tried to attract more business, tackle corruption and outdated banking practices.”
Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 7.7 percent the year before he took power. This year the IMF forecasts it will grow by 6.6 percent and Inflation has dropped to single digits. A nuclear deal with world powers ended sanctions and brought an endless stream of foreign suitors to Iran´s door.
The saving grace for Rouhani is that his conservative opponents appear unable to coalesce around a single candidate to run against him in May.Some analysts have interpreted the supreme leader´s criticism as a sign he wants a conservative to replace Rouhani.
But Geranmayeh said he was just keeping the government in check: “He´s the balancer. Part of his role is to critique every sitting government and make sure no one camp becomes overly popular.”
If Rouhani gets a second term, “he must be more aggressive on economic, social and political reforms. He has no choice. The alternative is catastrophe.”