Asia Scope

(Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) Saturday Night Fever

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Australian baby boomers concerned with the perceived political apathy of their ‘Gen X/Y’ kids should consider banning alcohol, rock concerts and premarital sex as they’ve done in Iran, where the elections have triggered a massive outburst of enthusiasm, says Austin Mackell

For over a week now in the lead up to the Iranian presidential elections, the streets of Tehran have been filled with young people excited to a point nearing hysteria. Older people I’ve been talking to say they haven’t seen anything like it since the revolution of 1979.  

While the supporters of the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are definitely out in force, they are outnumbered more than two to one by the green-clad supporters of his opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a reformer who promises a ‘new greeting to the world’ and who was prime minister during Iran’s long war with in Iraq.

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While many are clearly there more out of a desire to take part in the excitement than due to any strong political convictions (like a carload of young man I met who were carrying posters for both candidates), some are deadly serious and on occasions the vocal confrontations have spilled over into street fights.

Many say they are fearful that when a loser is announced things could turn quite ugly, with both sides already throwing (quite possibly well-founded) allegations of corruption at the other, and liable to cry foul if they don’t like the results.

Update: A strange and sudden calm – 12 June, 2009

It’s the night before the election and the rowdy youth that had swarmed the streets of Tehran have disappeared. No-one is sure if anything in particular has happened to keep them away or if there was just a general sense that the party was over at least until after the first day of voting (today).

There is a ban on electioneering by the candidates on the last day of the campaign, but since there is a constant ban on political protests and rallies, that doesn’t account for this strange and sudden calm…