They call it the “Facebook generation” – Iran’s youth is the driving force behind the campaign of President Ahmadinejad’s main rival Mirhossein Mousavi.
Unlike the 2005 polls, when a disillusioned youth largely stayed away from the ballot boxes, turnout is expected to be high this time – if only to deny Ahmadinejad a second term. “In these elections, I want to vote for someone who defends the rights of young people,” said one young man on the streets of Tehran. “Our country is very young. We will vote for someone like us, who can give us the freedom we want. You can be sure that, based on the intelligence of our youth, Mousavi will win the vote. They are campaigning for him with all their might.” More than 150,000 Iranians are members of the social networking site Facebook – and more than two-thirds of Iran’s population is less than 30 years old. All four candidates targetted young people in their campaigns, using their own communication tools to reach them. “This is a world of communication,” said a young Facebook user. “It’s no longer possible to conceal the truth. It’s not that easy to lie. It’s not easy to play around with polls. Communication tools such as Facebook and text messaging are used to convey information at a much faster pace.” A large number of voters today are simply too young to remember the 1979 revolution and those aspiring for reform are hoping this powerful electorate will manage to bring about lasting change and stand up to Iran’s autocratic regime.