Sat May 6, 2017 8:6AM
The six Iranian presidential candidates attend a second live debate, in Tehran, May 5, 2017. (Photo by Fars news agency)
The six Iranian presidential candidates attend a second live debate, in Tehran, May 5, 2017. (Photo by Fars news agency)
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An Iranian university lecturer says the live debates between Iran’s presidential hopefuls on state television reflect the reality that elections in the Islamic Republic are “meaningful,” a fact ignored by the West, Press TV reports.

“I think one very important point... was that it (the latest presidential debate) reflected a reality in Iran that is not recognized in Western countries and that is the fact that participatory politics in Iran is real and that elections in Iran are very meaningful,” University of Tehran Professor Mohammad Marandi said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He also stressed that the high turnouts in Iran’s elections in the past showed that elections are “important” to people.

The last presidential election in Iran, in 2013, saw a turnout of 72.7 percent. Some 50.5 million Iranians were eligible to vote in that election.

The six candidates in the upcoming presidential election — Iran’s 12th since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 — have outlined their plans in two live TV debates so far, with another debate expected to be held next week.

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Recent polls conducted by the Research Center of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) before and after the first televised debate found a meaningful increase in the number of people who said they would vote in the upcoming election, slated for May 19.

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In his interview with Press TV, Marandi hailed the role of Iran’s state TV in the campaigning and said that the debates “help Iranians to decide who to choose as their next president.”

Iranians watch the presidential candidates’ second live debate on state TV, May 5, 2017. (Photo by Fars news agency)

“I think the very fact that the public television is so deeply involved in this process makes it much more fair than in countries like the United States,” where only the candidates of the two mainstream political parties, “basically a part of the capitalist order,” can compete, Marandi said.

“All the media in the US are controlled by six corporations… and there is no alternative voice,” he said, adding, however, that in Iran, all the presidential candidates have been given equal time on different TV and radio channels.

He described as “a major achievement” the live debates and their “openness” at a time when “there are so many dictatorships and so much Western involvement in this region.”

Some 55 million people are eligible to vote for a new president on May 19.