In the name of Allah, the Merciful to all, the Compassionate
In recent days, lots of news has been circulating on social media about the spreading Coronavirus in Iran – including news reported by Heath Ministry officials. However, the English pages of most Iranian news outlets do not reflect this; and for good reason: the whole story was for local consumption. Let me explain.
President Rouhani’s current feeble government botched everything so badly that his approval rate dropped to around 7%. So the most expected thing was for the parliament to impeach and disqualify him. But liberals and reformists have the majority in the current parliament, and they support Rouhani, no matter what.
This situation made most people decide to participate in today’s election, and vote for anyone other than reformists – just to increase the chance of Rouhani’s ouster as soon as possible. As a result, voter turnout in today’s election was expected to be around 70% in poor provinces and cities, who consider Rouhani as the cause of their misery. In richer cities, like Tehran, reformists have a better chance of keeping their footing. If the turnout is 70% or so, and conservatives win with 90% of votes, the damage for reformists is uncontrollable. But if voter turnout is low, they can find an alibi to justify the loss.
Now comes Coronavirus into the picture
In cities in which polls showed that reformists would lose badly, thwarting people from polling stations is the trick to control the damage; and the best way to force people to stay in their homes is the rumor of a pandemic.
On the other hand, Iranian dissidents will use anything at their disposal, to thwart people from polling stations. So many groups are looking for a lower voter turnout, for different reasons.
Up to this point, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Dr. Namaki, reported that 5 persons are diagnosed with COVID-19, in the city of Qom and Arak. But there are other reports about new diagnosed patients in Babol, Birjand, and Lahijan. The horror campaign is real: the government ordered all schools to be shut in Qom for next Saturday.
Personally, I expect the news about the spreading coronavirus in Iran to end after today’s election, because it serves no purpose anymore.
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