Debate between Rezaei and Ahmadinejad, 8 June 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Great, it just started and I'll be liveblogging it. It is the last debate in the election after all. Presstv.ir had a speech by the leader of Hezbollah (remember the elections happened in Lebanon today) and I thought for a moment that they wouldn't be featuring the debate.

The two candidates are now giving their greetings, and the moderator is telling them to only talk about each other and not the other candidates.

Ahmadinejad is going first, so Rezaei will conclude the debate.

Ahmadinejad 1: apparently there was an event scheduled that he couldn't attend so he apologized for that. Then he jumps straight to the statistics and defends his sources. Remember Ahmadinejad pulled out a ton of charts in the debate two nights ago and Mousavi responded indirectly with his own charts last night. Ahmadinejad is asking why he's just being attacked all the time. Then he talks a bit about Article 44 and asks Rezaei about economic federalism - does it have a relationship with administrative divisions? And some more economic questions. Then it goes quickly to Rezaei.

Rezaei 1: Says it's good that this election has debates but wishes that they were more about discussing the next government in detail, says that the rules for the debates were changed in the meantime and avoid the main issues; then says thanks to Ahmadinejad for his question on economy and that he'll answer it in a bit. Says that the inflation rate is 25% and unemployment is 12.5% - shows that Iran's not in a good economic situation. Iran has problems with both capital and liquidity - $75 billion (I think) of bank debts keeps banks frozen and the stock market has gone from 11,000 to 8,000. Investment average over the past 4 years has been 4.7%...economic growth rate is expected to shrink this year and the next, and maybe will reach below 4% after that.

By the way, Twitter traffic on Rezaei is exploding right now. I think Rezaei is going for the presidential look in this debate. Neither of them have gone on the attack yet. Now Rezaei is asking Ahmadinejad whether he intends to do the same thing over the next four years if he gets elected again.

Now he's on a fascinating tangent about federalism and the number of provinces. Every region with five provinces will have councils? Hm. Okay, back to Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad 2: Continues the discussion on regions. Then goes to inflation again, says that the average rate in 2007/8 was 25%, but that the rate today is below 15%. Says high inflation was a result of international inflation from oil and commodities prices. Says that incomes are also increasing, and that the stock exchange is very active. Claims that they got rid of a bubble that existed in 2004...goes on for quite some time about how their economic plans are awesome (tired of typing out the details).

Rezaei 2: Says that he won't accuse Ahmadinejad of lying but also says that he shouldn't be using statistics for years that haven't ended yet, because in other years the inflation rate changed quite a bit during the year. Ooh, talking about the price of cheese, and talking about average people at home trying to put food on the table. Then he says that inflation hasn't been the case in the rest of the world so this is particular to Iran. Apparently prices have doubled in the past four years, gives a few examples, then says that as a result purchasing power of the average person has declined. Gives a ton more examples and concludes that people aren't better off than they were before, and tells Ahmadinejad he shouldn't be using point-to-point comparisons on inflation. Now he's talking about federalism again. Says that Iran is far too large a country for the president to go all the way around the country - if people in an area want a water canal or whatever the president shouldn't have to drag the cabinet there to approve it. Says that Kish Island (article on the island can be seen here) is a good example of a less centralized federalism.

Now he changes the subject to instability and the number of cabinet ministers that have been replaced. Finishes up with tariffs - says that Turkmenistan and other nations were able to use Iran's inflation to fiddle with tariffs when exporting gas and other goods to Iran. Asks Ahmadinejad what he'll do if elected again about this.

Ahmadinejad 3: Little barb there - says Rezaei made fun of the administration in the previous debates. Says that Rezaei is not correct and that incomes have risen with inflation, and that the people aren't miserable. Says that the inflation rate for his government is lower than others, and that a lot of it came from international inflation. Talking about purchasing power again, says that the prices in some areas has actually decreased. Then compares the changing of the ministers to the changing of the players in a game - the players have changed but the plan is the same. On tariffs: says the average tariff before was 22% (32%?) and now it's 33%, then says that the ratio of non-oil exports to oil exports has increased. Now he's going at Rezaei on federalism, says that it doesn't work because of a lack of national identity. Now he says that the government wouldn't go to a local place to check out something like a water canal anyway.

Rezaei 3: Says other countries in the world have had success with federalism so Iran should be able to as well. Says he'll reduce taxation, and tells Ahmadinejad he should ask experts on the economy. Now back to administration: during the war he says they (the military, I think) ran the country by themselves and thus he knows a ton about administration, much more than Ahmadinejad. Says that due to low tariffs too much sugar was imported and companies inside Iran producing sugar then shut down and people weren't able to work the hours they needed. Brings up potatoes as well, and then says that reducing tariffs is a bad idea for workers all around, and that Ahmadinejad's government didn't make wise decisions in this area. Now he's talking about his shadow government and think tank idea, where something would be set up to monitor the government and keep it accountable.

Ahmadinejad 4: Says that Rezaei's points were mentioned in opposition newspapers. Defends his record on small industry and says that he can't just run them himself, but that he helped them during his term. More on industry, and now says he'll be submitting a bill soon to reform the banking structure...back on sugar again. Says the extra imports happened as a result of sanctions before, and a bill in response to that to increase exports from outside with lower tariffs...talking about the definition of an 'elite' now, and getting quite boring. Okay, now on security, says that crime is declining - not for everything, but for most offenses, and gives credit to the tight security in the country...then finishes up with investment. Definitely the most boring part of the debate so far.

Rezaei 4: Says Iran has the strongest intelligence, police and armed services in the region, but that management is weak. Ah, 'elites' is referring to well-educated people, I think. Rezaei wants to give these elites projects in order to get them more involved, says that Ahmadinejad has avoided his question on this subject. (This was a quick response, 6 minutes)

Ahmadinejad 5: Asks Rezaei whether they really ran the country during the war, says he doesn't mind if he responds because it's on his time.

Rezaei response: Yes, explains what he means by running the country's affairs after the Revolution.

Ahmadinejad again: What do you mean by the first three years?

Rezaei: 1980...

Some talking over each other...talking about governors. Ahmadinejad keeps pressing him on how the government was run directly after the Revolution.

Ahmadinejad: Says that appointing governors is different from running a government. Asks about the wartime economy.

Rezaei: Hey, we're talking in front of 40 million people, let's not show off. I meant that a lot of government was run by us, and never said that we ran the economy...I was responding to your claim that I don't know anything about bureaucracy.

Okay, looks like that exchange is over. Ahmadinejad continues: talks about 4+ million barrels of oil being consumed daily and its distribution, asks Rezaei what his plan is re: this. Next question on banks.

Silence.

Who is using whose time?

Silence again.

You don't want to give an answer? says Ahmadinejad. Seems to be some confusion on who has how much time left. Ahmadinejad seems to use this strategy quite a bit - peppers his opponent with questions at the end in order to try to use up their time. Rezaei isn't falling for that and says to visit his website, and shifts back to the economy in general. Says he doesn't want to give people fish, but rather teach them how to fish.

Rezaei says that Ahmadinejad's policies will result in God knows how much inflation, Ahmadinejad says no, asks Rezaei how he plans to increase output, Rezaei says entrepreneurs need security and something about boards of directors, Ahmadinejad calls this just "a series of claims", switches back to his record and says that things have improved since he came to power. Ahmadinejad says talking about economic security isn't pragmatic, that there was economic security because according to him the economy has improved. Asks Rezaei what incentives he'll give to factory owners in order to help prices come down.

Rezaei responds that he'll stop interfering with the banking system as Ahmanidejad has, says that A. effectively became the boss of the banking system and thus it had no one at the head. A. says no, there's a money council...more on unemployment...blames the previous government on loans, and says that his government gives 100% to the private sector.

A. talking about the elites again. Says that no government can employ all elites all the time, and that the best way is to involve most of them instead. Says that R. made a claim before that the country would be at war within a month, and that thanks to A. the government was able to avoid war? Not sure what this is about...and now Ahmadinejad is out of time all of a sudden. Finalizes by saying that he didn't have any time to defend himself against accusations in the other debates, thank you and goodbye.

Rezaei: Rezaei says Ahmadinejad is a know-it-all that sees himself as an expert in everything and that's his biggest problem, instead of referring to those in the know. Says the elite defended Iran from American invasion three times, and that they were told to be prepared for war, but A. removed these people and that if A. continues in this way national security is at risk. Says that the US had a definite war against Iran but Iran was able to avoid this, through revelations by military analysts that kept Bush from being able to make the case for the war. Now on unemployment: says that A. is including part-time in employment when they are underemployed. Says that A. isn't lying but that his figures and statistics stretch the truth. Says that the economy wouldn't have gone down the tubes if A. had asked the judgment of the elites more, says A. needs to change.

A. tries to say something...R. says in the remaining few seconds that figures are fabricated and that he will put an end to that...and now the debate is over.

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