With as much as 50% of the voters under the age of 30, the youth vote as well as Facebook may prove to be deciding factors in the upcoming June 12 Iranian presidential elections. Sensing his grip on power possiby slipping away, the government of controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Facebook ahead of the election as most of the buzz among young voters is highly favorable of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the Independent Reformist candidate for president.
The fact of the matter is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has burnt down much of his popularity at home by his constant confrontations with the West as well the terrible economy he has fostered. Grocery prices have doubled since Ahmadienjad was elected president in 2005. Prior to that election, Admadinejad was the controversial Mayor of Tehran who once ordered the streets of the city widened so that some Islamic prophets could walk those wide streets once unbelievers in the world would be defeated in a future war with Islam.
The middle class of Iran prefers a better business climate and more Western trade and would prefer to avoid potential war in the future over the Iranian nuclear program. Likewise, many young people in Iran feel that Ahmadinejad has sucked hope out the country and has only been too controversial and badly mishandled the Iranian economy. Mousavi may not be the Iranian Barack Obama, however he's seen as the best hope for change and reform among the three presidential candidates. Mousavi would likely move to advance relations with the West and improve trade. And even though the development of nuclear power is a source of pride among many in Iran, Mousavi would likely seek to divorce the peaceful development of nuclear power from any military intentions.
Mousavi has also proven the ability to draw huge crowds at rally events on very short notice as well. With only a two day notice, Mousavi drew a large 15,000 person crowd recently. Former president and moderate cleric, Mohammed Khatami withdrew from the race and supported Mousavi as the best hope for reformers to win the election. And most of the talk about the election in Facebook has been heavily weighted towards Mousavi as well, leading to the government of Ahmadinejad's government banning Facebook prior to the election.
Mousavi would have a full plate in working to improve the economy mess made by Ahmadinejad as well as improving relations with the West. Further, Mousavi promises greater civil liberties such as more freedom of speech in Iran. That would be a sharp contrast from Ahmadinjad ruling out of fear, and falsely accusing some of spying for Israel and allowing public hangings.
Some polls suggest that Mousavi may have a moderate to huge lead. Other polls, put Ahmadinejad ahead. However, it is really not known just how reliable any of these polls actually are. One poll entirely comprised of just workers has Mousavi leading by 52 to 36% over Ahmadinejad. However, another poll that includes small towns and village actually has Mousavi running third in the race with Ahmadinjad leading. But it is highly likely that a runoff election may take place, and that Ahmadinejad is running far behind the 61.89% that he received in the 2005 Iranian election when he defeated former President Akbar Rafsanjani.
With the potential of the huge youth vote, and Ahmadinejad so far running far below his 2005 election margin, it is highly likely that Mousavi may win the election coming up in a few days, and the relations with Tehran and Washington may start to improve somewhat from the low point they have sunken to under Ahmadinejad.
Just like the recent American presidential election, hope and change are big factors in the upcoming Iranian presidential election.