Iranians Weigh Ahmadinejad's Election Chances In June, Iran will decide if it will keep or replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been the country's public face for almost four years. Opinions of Ahmadinejad differ, and he will face opposition — perhaps from former President Mohammad Khatami (left).
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Iranians Weigh Ahmadinejad's Election Chances

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Iranians Weigh Ahmadinejad's Election Chances

Iranians Weigh Ahmadinejad's Election Chances

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I?m Renee Montagne in Washington.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

This country decides in the coming months if it will keep or replace the man who?s been Iran?s public face for almost four years.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: (Foreign language spoken)

INSKEEP: That?s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a speech last week. He was demanding that the United States apologize to Iran for past wrongs. Ahmadinejad is known in the West for defiant remarks about Israel and the Holocaust. In Tehran, he?s often blamed for a fading economy.

MONTAGNE: In your view, what must happen in order for President Ahmadinejad to be defeated this year-

MEHDI KARRUBI: (Foreign language spoken)

INSKEEP: The man answering is Mehdi Karrubi. We met him in Tehran, where he warmed himself by a glassed-in fireplace. He?s a Muslim cleric in a white turban, and he?s a reformist, as they?re known here - people who want to make Iran more open.

KARRUBI: (Foreign language spoken)

INSKEEP: He says Ahmadinejad can only be beaten with a big voter turnout.

KARRUBI: (Foreign language spoken)

INSKEEP: Karrubi is running in the presidential election in June. Bigger names may follow soon. Their challenge might be generating the popular support that Karrubi considers essential. Journalist and analyst Seyed Laylaz knows that many people in this country gave up on politics long ago.

SEYED LAYLAZ: Frankly speaking, there are a lot of people who are hopeless about the future, and they are hopeless about the political system of the country for sure. But I believe we have no other choice to participate in the election, in any case.

INSKEEP: So, he says that many voters have already chosen to check out. Consider Bimani Tahkhani, the elderly woman we met this week in a working-class part of Tehran. Through an interpreter, she denounced the economy and said she was desperately poor. But?

BIMANI TAHKHANI: Unidentified Man (Interpreter): Definitely that she?s swearing to the soul of her father and her ancestors that never, ever she will participate in the elections anymore.

INSKEEP: Then there?s Reza, a young building manager we first met yesterday. He and his fianc

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