09MOSCOW587, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: MFA UNCERTAIN OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW587 2009-03-11 14:20 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6502
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMO #0587 0701420
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111420Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2309
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000587 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR RS
SUBJECT: IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: MFA UNCERTAIN OF 
OUTCOME 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) Russian MFA Iran desk chief Maxim Baranov, who 
recently returned from Tehran, told us that the Iranian 
political situation remained unclear, with too many potential 
candidates to predict the outcome of the June 12 Presidential 
election.  Baranov thought that the large number of potential 
presidential candidates, which he put at 10, ensured that 
there would be a runoff following the initial voting.  Should 
Ahmadinejad eventually announce his candidacy, the current 
President's popularity would allow him to make it to the 
second round, although the fate of other candidates was 
uncertain.  Baranov argued, however, that the presence of 
other hard-line candidates and dissatisfaction with the 
country's economic situation meant that Ahmadinejad's 
re-election was not ensured.  He thought that the "main 
political struggle" would come in April, after all the 
candidates had officially registered and Iranians, returned 
from spring vacations, focused more fully on the election. 
 
2. (C) Baranov explained that while there were concerns that 
the potential candidacy of former Prime Minister Mousavi 
would divide the reformist camp, it also offered Iranian 
voters the choice of a candidate remembered for guiding the 
country through one of its most trying periods during the 
Iran-Iraq war.  Mousavi was credited with successfully 
managing the economy under difficult fiscal constraints, 
which would make him an attractive choice for voters 
concerned with the current state of Iran's oil-dependent 
economy.  Baranov maintained that this meant Mousavi would 
stand in sharp contrast to former President Khatami, who was 
not considered an effective manager.  Should Mousavi and 
Khatami both run, the votes of reformist-minded Iranians 
could hinge upon whether their concern for Iran's economy 
trumped support for the country's reformist standard bearer. 
Baranov added that possible runs by former Tehran Mayor 
Karbaschi and speaker of Parliament Karroubi could only 
further complicate the situation for Iranian reformists. 
 
3. (C) Baronov said that voter turnout would depend heavily 
upon the ability of the various campaigns to motivate 
Iranians.  While in Tehran, he looked up old acquaintances 
who were either unsure for whom they would vote or if they 
would vote at all.  Using typically Russian terms to describe 
the message and means campaigns use to appeal to voters, 
Baranov said that the "propaganda and political technologies" 
employed by the presidential campaigns will be of great 
importance.  Television and radio are under the thumb of the 
Supreme Leader, but print media remains open, and the 
internet, while controlled to some extent by the authorities, 
could be employed effectively by knowledgeable campaigns.  In 
Tehran, Baranov saw peoples' cell phones displaying the 
images of their favored presidential candidates and heard 
that campaigns would use text messaging to reach voters. 
 
4. (C) Baronov believes that the youth vote remains in 
question, both in terms of how motivated young people will be 
to vote, but also how they will vote.  He cautioned us not to 
assume that this extremely large segment of the Iranian 
population was monolithic in its views, citing the presence 
in schools and universities of conservative student 
organizations, some of which fanatically maintain support for 
the hard-liners and ideals of the Iranian Revolution. 
 
5. (C) Baranov posited that Iran's economy would be the 
primary issue in the campaign, with candidates addressing how 
they would handle macroeconomic policy as well as spending on 
education, pensions and other entitlements.  The secondary 
issue would be relations with the U.S., with all candidates 
taking a hard-line with Washington.  Another issue would be 
Iran's place in the larger Middle East - all candidates will 
advocate a strong Iran, although nuances in rhetoric will 
indicate how they intend to work with neighbors and within 
the international system, according to Baranov. 
BEYRLE

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