The 2009 presidential election campaign
when ended Thursday and reached polling stations on Friday, was fiery and filled with personal offenses between the candidates. In addition, it will be remembered as the most expensive election campaign in the Islamic republic's history.
It's hard to know how much money each candidate spent. President Mahmoud Ahmaidnejad's
campaign staff refused to provide details. One of the associates of the Mir Hossein Mousavi estimated that the reformist candidate spent between $30-40 million on the elections.
In any event, there is no doubt that the presidential candidates spent tens of millions of dollars on their elections campaigns – an unprecedented matter in Iran. This issue was raised more than once, with Ahmadinejad complaining that businessmen and corrupt politicians were supporting Mousavi.
The election campaign was accompanied, among other things, by a mass distribution of computerized propaganda, such as CDs and DVDs. Another interesting phenomenon which took place during the campaign was a dramatic rise in the number of text messages sent to Iranian cell phone subscribers, from 60 million messages a day to some 110 million.
The text messages sent from the candidates' headquarters urged the Iranian citizens to go out and vote, as well as a recommendation who to vote for.
Regardless of the winner's identity, Iran's next president will be forced to deal with complicated financial problems. Ahmadinejad's last four years can be summarized as a total failure in the economic field, despite being the working class' great hope in the previous elections.
The country's inflation rate is rising, and is currently estimated at 25%. The unemployment rate in 2005, when Ahmadinejad was elected president, stood at 10.5%, while today it has already reached more than 12.5%. According to unofficial estimates, one in five Iranians lives today under the poverty line.
Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd.