Home BUSINESS From celebrations to skyrocketing prices: Iranians’ performance under Rouhani

From celebrations to skyrocketing prices: Iranians’ performance under Rouhani



Shortly after Iran’s centrist president Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013, the country’s football team qualified for the World Cup, a sign, many said, that the new leader had brought them good luck.

After eight years of relations with the West, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad’s relationship has deteriorated, and many citizens believe that Rouhani’s election has issued a return to normality. When the new president vowed to “solve” Iran’s problems, people danced in the streets. They hope to improve the relationship between the theocracy and the West.

Rouhani said at his first press conference after assuming the presidency that the election “opened a new chapter, as if all [voters] Shouting that their suffering is over. He added: “Your prudence and hope that the government will fulfill its promise to save the country’s economy, restore morality, and establish constructive interaction with the world. “

Now, as Rouhani prepares to step down after the presidential election on June 18, statistics show that the now extremely unpopular leader has failed to fulfill many of his promises.

1. Debt accumulation

Rouhani came to power in 2013 and promised to hold talks with Washington and other global powers to lift economic sanctions. His efforts led to the historic nuclear agreement in 2015, which eased restrictions and, in return, Iran curbed its nuclear activities. Oil sales are booming. But when Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018, oil sales plummeted again—Iran’s revenue plummeted with it.

Since then, the government has sought to diversify non-oil exports and raised corporate taxes, putting tremendous pressure on troubled small businesses. The government has accelerated the privatization of state-owned enterprises.Therefore, most Iranians Have invested their savings in the stock market Analysts said that if the market collapses, this will bring risks.

2. Freefall economy

After the United States withdrew from the agreement, GDP fell, destroying the economic gains recorded when the agreement was first signed. Foreign investment plummeted. France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault took the lead to enter the Iranian market after the Iran nuclear agreement was signed, and took the lead to leave after the Iran nuclear agreement was broken. Then came the pandemic, which further exacerbated the economic woes.

A line chart of GDP, current prices calculated by purchasing power parity (re-adjusted) show that Iran’s economy is lagging behind the rest of the region

During Rouhani’s tenure, the youth unemployment rate has remained at an average high of 22%. This army of young, unemployed Iranians has been described by analysts as a time bomb. In 2017 and 2019, young people from poor backgrounds caused riots. The biggest and deadliest economic protest in the history of the Islamic Republic.

3. Log in and listen

One of the biggest achievements of the Rouhani government is to expand the use of the Internet. A country with a population of nearly 85 million has nearly 95 million broadband Internet users—many of whom purchase fixed and mobile transactions—that has grown 20 times each year since he first took power. The number of SIM cards used during the same period increased from 59.4 million to 131 million.

The line chart shows that as more and more Iranians access the Internet, by comparing the online freedom score with the mobile phone and broadband subscriptions per 100 people, there are still strict controls

The expansion of the Internet-even in the poorest villages and towns-has also promoted a silent revolution. Online business is growing, and citizens across the country are paying attention to what is happening in cities such as Tehran. Social media is the biggest tool Iranians use to express their dissatisfaction. Although some hardliners talk about blocking access to social media, its popularity makes it a difficult position.

4. Soaring prices. .. And collapsed popularity

One of Rouhani’s early victories was to reduce the inflation rate to single digits, just below 7%, after the nuclear agreement was reached, which was the lowest level in decades. Its surge since 2018-Iranians say official data greatly underestimates its true rise-has led to a drop in Rouhani’s approval rating.

The line chart of annual changes in consumer prices (%) shows out of control: Iran’s inflation rate soars again

Analysts say that the president’s response—people should be happy that goods are available during what he calls an economic war—will only arouse public outrage. This makes him probably the most unpopular president in the history of this Islamic Republic.

5. Rial to U.S. dollar

For many Iranians, one of the biggest psychological indicators of their welfare is the exchange rate. A weak rial not only leads to inflation, but also prevents many people from traveling abroad, leading to a sense of isolation.

The line chart of the rial per dollar (000s) shows the sharp depreciation of the rial since the United States withdrew from the nuclear agreement and imposed sanctions

After the United States abandoned the nuclear agreement, the rial depreciated. Iranians are vying to buy dollars and euros. The unofficial estimate of foreign currency stored in private homes is as high as 35 billion U.S. dollars.

6. Gold on a rainy day

As the currency fluctuates, more and more Iranians cannot afford gold coins that are traditionally kept at home for emergencies, such as buying a house, education for their children, and marriage. People often promised gold coins as dowry-but the collapse of the rial meant that many people couldn’t make it.

The grouping symbol chart shows the number of rials needed to buy gold coins in 2014 and 2021

7. Pride is now a luxury

When Iranians want to show how poor they are, they often say that it is difficult for them to buy the Pride car, which is one of the cheapest domestic cars sold in the Islamic Republic. As people become taxi drivers, in the past decade, with the help of the launch of a taxi-hailing app in Iran, it has usually provided a second—and sometimes a third—income. However, the depreciation of the rial caused the cost of Pride to rise sharply, making it impossible for many people to afford the cost of a new car.

The line chart shows how the price of Iran's cheapest domestic car Pride/Saipa 132 has soared since 2013

8. Women feel disillusioned

For a long time, female voting has been crucial to reform candidates, and Rouhani is no exception. But he only appointed two women into his cabinet, which disappointed many people. Although women can now participate in football matches of foreign teams, there are few signs that women’s rights have improved significantly.

Comparing Iran with the Middle East and North Africa, a small multiple graph showing that women’s rights in Iran have not improved under Rouhani’s rule

Many women now have illusions about politics. “I will not vote in elections,” said Hamid, a 38-year-old employee of a private company. “And will discourage everyone around me, which is different from dragging my family into the polling station before.”

Ian Bott’s extra visual news in London


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