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Two main boycott supporters turn to voting

15 June 2005

Today's meeting of reformists in Tehran University's football field was wonderful. It was a bit too long, but it was almost full. Thousands of young men and women, average age of 26 or 27, showed up despite the extremely hot weather and the burning sun.

The most significant thing to happen was the official announcement by two very popular reformist figures who had long boycotted the elections, but have changed their minds and encouraged people to participate and vote.

They were Mohsen Kadivar, the smart and outspoken cleric who spent about two years in jail for his anti-Khamenei stands, and Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, the young female reformist MP who was the first MP to resign after the parliamentary election fiasco last year. Now they are backing Moin's campaign.

Also significant was that Reza Khatami, Moin's vice president to-be, didn't speak at the meeting. The reason became obvious after Moin himself started talking: Moin is such a bad speaker, despite his innocent face and likable character. Khatami, in contrast, is a passionate speaker, and would have overshadowed Moin, the main candidate.

But who cares? Nobody is actually going to vote for Moin for himself. This is the first time that a presidential candidate is earning credibility from his campaign staff, not the other way around. Eight years ago, few knew Mohammad Khatami's main campaign team and strategists. But now Hajarian, Tajzadeh, Reza Khatami, etc. are more popular than Moin himself.

So I think Moin will be facing a bigger challenge than the one from Khamanei: how to deal with the people who offered him his candidacy and would be setting

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