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Candidates Warned Over Campaign Promises

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

The speaker of Iran’s Islamic assembly, Ali Larijani, has warned candidates in the upcoming May 19 presidential election to not overstep their place or go against current law.

“Keep your campaign promises within the law, and do not disregard parliament’s dignity,” he said.

According to the Tasnim News Agency, Larijani, reminded the candidates that Iran is on the verge of implementing the newly endorsed Sixth Five Year Development Plan and candidates’ campaign promises should be limited to its legal framework.

“If a candidate steps beyond it, it would still be up to parliament to endorse or disapprove it,” Larijani added.

Larijani, a heavyweight conservative principlist, singled out the question of the subsidies, or cash handouts, as an issue solely under parliament’s purview.

“In Iran’s current financial conditions, the government is deprived of the means to double or triple the subsidy amount,” Larijani said on a previous occasion.

Recently, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf promised to raise the amount of the cash handouts if elected. The other conservative contender, mid-ranking cleric and the custodian of Imam Reza’s shrine, Ebrahim Raisi, has also promised to triple the amount of cash handouts for people with low incomes.

On the contrary, moderate and reformist candidates -- incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and first deputy Eshaq Jahangiri -- have dismissed such promises as hollow and impossible to fulfill.

Cash handouts on a massive scale began during the presidency of Mahmud Ahmadinejad when world oil prices hovered at more than $100 a barrel. Tens of billions of dollars were spent on financing the unprecedented direct subsidies.

Rouhani has restricted eligibility for these subsidies to reign in government deficits at a time when oil prices are less than half of what they were before.