Legislative elections in Iran: “One in three Iranians lives below the poverty line”

More than 61 million Iranians are called to the polls on Friday March 1 to elect the Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, where the conservatives are expected to strengthen their hold in the absence of an alternative.

Today, the economic crisis in the country has become endemic, with inflation being one of the main concerns of Iranians, whose living standards have collapsed.

Interview with Djamchid Assadi, professor at Burgundy School of Business (BDS) in Dijon, France.

Iranians shop in Tehran's Grand Bazaar, as they face an extremely high inflation rate, on February 24, 2024. © ATTA KENARE / AFP

By: Anne Verdaguer Follow


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The election of the Parliament

and the Assembly of Experts on Friday March 1 will mark the first electoral meeting in Iran after the outbreak of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protest movement.

Also the first meeting since the election of President Ebrahim Raïssi who, for his voters, embodied the hope of an end to endemic corruption in the country and the start of economic recovery.

RFI: What can we say about the country's economic situation?

Djamchid Assadi:

The country has been in

a catastrophic economic situation

for decades.

Iran is penultimate in the Middle East in terms of gross national product (GNP) per capita, although before the Islamic Revolution, it was a country without unemployment which attracted the labor force and expertise of neighboring countries. .

Today, one in three Iranians lives below the poverty line.

According to one of my sources, almost half of the capital placed on the stock market in Iran has been taken out of the country since the election of President Ebrahim Raïssi.

Iranian investors have fled to Turkey, Qatar or Canada, because there are no longer any prospects there.

The very tense context in the region also deters any desire to invest.

Moreover, the banks are bankrupt, it is the Iranian central bank which tries to support them and it is also the one which decides where the money goes.

As for the currency, the rial, it has lost a lot of its value.

How do Iranians deal with this situation?

For many of them, daily life is very difficult, and for example, they have had to remove meat from their diet, or they give up dental care.

The official inflation rate is around 40%, but in reality it is close to 70%, particularly for food products.

This is not surprising because the money supply increases without there being any production support.

Iranians are demonstrating today because of their economic situation, and this is new.

Their living conditions are getting worse and there is no change despite successive elections.

People no longer believe in it, which is why they

are calling for a boycott of these elections


And there is still a lot of corruption among the ruling elites.

Another very telling figure: today, 64% of higher education graduates are on the verge of leaving the country.

What is the regime doing to improve the lives of Iranians?

The government does not have enough funds to meet its commitments.

For example, many retirees no longer receive their pensions and the pension system is bankrupt.

The people are hungry, but the regime does not have the means to release subsidies.

Another example: oil revenue has decreased, notably due to international sanctions, and the government is therefore placing a lot of emphasis on taxes.

However, still 40% of Iranian taxpayers do not pay taxes, but these are not the poorest: these include religious foundations.

Finally, growth exists, but the country is extremely in debt, it is very fragile growth.

A corrupt, incapable and bankrupt regime does not fall.

So for this to change, there needs to be an alternative.

What kind of alternative?

From a political point of view, there is nothing to expect, because the

candidates for elections are filtered

, they support the rentiers and the privileged.

It is a vicious circle and the economic situation will not change after these elections, because even with the popular uprisings of recent years, the regime hears nothing.

Now, either a leader supported by the people will be able to establish himself as a credible alternative, or someone from the inside will rise up within this regime to try to save it.

Read also Launch of the legislative campaign in Iran: “Everything is locked”


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