new public opinion survey of Iranians shows that incumbent President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the leading candidate in the country's
presidential elections scheduled for Friday.
survey of about 1,000 Iranians, commissioned last month by two
Washington-based public policy institutes - Terror Free Tomorrow and
the New America Foundation - found that 34 percent of those surveyed
plan to vote for President Ahmadinejad.
His main rival,
reformist former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, was favored by 14
percent of the respondents. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed
said they are undecided.
The survey found that the two other
candidates in the race are trailing far behind - Mehdi Karroubi
attracted two percent of likely voters and Mohsen Rezaei was favored by
If none of Iran's presidential candidates
receives 50 percent of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes
will compete in a run-off election.
According to the survey, Iranians favor a more democratic system for their country by a wide margin.
Ken Ballen is President of Terror Free Tomorrow:
it shows is the Iranian people are very far removed from the
stereotypes that are commonly asserted in the United States and the
West about them," said Ken Ballen. "They want a democratic future.
They want a free press. They want open elections. They want to be
able to choose in a democratic vote their supreme leader."
survey found that nearly 90 percent of Iranians plan to vote in
Friday's elections. About 70 percent of those polled said they believe
the elections will be free and fair.
Leverett, Director of the Iran Project at the New America Foundation,
says Mr. Mousavi has attracted large crowds and much media attention at
recent campaign rallies.
"We are obviously seeing a lot of
anecdotal reporting about what at least Western reporters are
perceiving to be a surge in support for Mousavi in the late stages of
the campaign," said Flynt Leverett. "Like a lot of elections in the
United States, it would seem the turnout is going to be a critical
The public opinion poll shows that Iranians consider
Israel and the United States as representing the greatest threat to
However, the survey found that a large number of
Iranians favor curtailing their country's nuclear program in return for
foreign aid and investment.
Again, Ken Ballen of Terror Free Tomorrow:
than 7 in 10 Iranians would favor some kind of trade off for full
inspections and a guarantee to insure no nuclear weapons," he said.
"That is not nuclear energy, it is weapons. So the desire for reaching
to the outside is very strong and that extends to the United States."
public opinion polls are rare in Iran, where Islamic leaders enforce
strict rules of behavior and dissidents often are imprisoned. This
survey was conducted by telephone from a nearby country that the
sponsors declined to identify for security reasons.