The eight men who were selected by the Guardian Council last week to run for president in the 14 June election are holding their first televised debate today. The debate started moments ago and the candidates will each respond to a series of questions on the country’s economic situation, its nuclear program, relations with the West and a number of domestic issues. Two more televised debates are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.
The eight chosen candidates are:
- Mohammad Reza Aref, former First Vice President
- Qolam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Member of Majlis
- Saeed Jalili, Supreme National Security Council
- Mohsen Rezaie, Expediency Council and former IRGC commander
- Hassan Rouhani, Strategic Research Center
- Baqer Qalibaf, Tehran Mayor
- Mohammad Qarazi, former Telecommunications Minister
- Ali Akbar Velayati, former Foreign Minister
UPDATE: This is becoming not a good night for state TV. In the second part of the debate, the moderator asked seven questions with multiple answers, like the standardized tests at schools, and the eight chosen candidates had to answer either yes or no, or choose one of two or three options, like choosing A, B, or C in a test. They could not offer explanations why they picked a particular answer, and could not debate among themselves. At this point, the candidates started to object, some quite angrily, to the format of the debate, saying it was more suitable to testing students than starting a debate among eight people, one of whom will be the country’s president in three weeks. Not surprisingly, most of the answers to questions in this part were, “The Question is Wrong!” This is not going well!
UPDATE 2: The debate finally got into issues, although many candidates still not happy with the format. One of the best reports on tonight’s debate is filed by the Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson.
“In a marathon four-hour debate on the themes of economic “justice,” failing trust in government, and current mismanagement, the mild-mannered men criticized present and past administrations but did not put forward their own concrete plans,” Peterson reports.
To read Scott Peterson’s piece, please click here.
Photo credit: A screen capture of state TV's broadcast of the first presidential debate (IRIB/Press TV)