Saturday, June 11, 2005 / Middle East & Africa - Islamic virtue takes a back seat on Iran's new-look campaign trail:

"'If a candidate tries to escape from democracy and shows toughness, it won't work,' said Hamid-Reza Jalaei-Pour, a sociology professor at Tehran university.

For the first time in Iran, there is a candidate clearly running for a party. Mostafa Moein, a reformist contender, was chosen by Mosharekat, the main reformist group. In a reality check to polished electioneering, Dr Moein appeared on Wednesday on state television in an interview with Saeed Hajjarian, the leading reformist journalist partially paralysed by an assassination attempt by Islamic vigilantes in 2000.

'You are an example to our young,' Dr Moein told Mr Hajjarian, whose questions were run as subtitles because of his slurred speech.

But just a week before the election, candidates are struggling to motivate a disillusioned electorate. Iranians are sceptical about politics and politicians' promises after wearying years of revolution, high unemployment and inflation, and Mr Khatami's battles with unelected state institutions. 'Not even all the changes in the way of campaigning may be enough to make people vote,' says Mr Jalaei-Pour. 'We have had 25 years of sloganeering, so now it's very difficult to fool Iranians.'"

[emphasis mine]

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