"A Correspondent" writes for Tehran Bureau about life in Iran's capital amidst economic pressure and campaigning for the Parliamentary election:
Almost everybody I talk to is under financial pressure. Many contractors are owed money by the governmental organizations, but not the ones that are part of the "khodi" [us] crowd. The war fears have subsided somewhat, but people are still very stressed out. A business owner tells me that workers who voted for Ahmadinejad back in 2005 are now all outspoken critics of the regime. Some who are young enough to be drafted in the event of a war say they will refuse to pick up a gun.
I said to a friend that I think the upcoming vote for the Majlis [Parliament] will have a very poor turnout, but he responded that, on the contrary, many will show up. I asked him why and he gave his brother's situation as an example. His brother is doing his medical service [mandatory after graduating medical school] by treating people in some small village in the middle of nowhere. He said when the time comes for him to apply for a license to open up a medical practice, they will check his shenasnameh [birth certificate, which is stamped as a voting record], and if he has not voted, they will not grant him the license. This was shocking, but not totally unexpected, to hear. Khamenei needs a good turnout for the elections, both to demonstrate the "legitimacy" of his rule and to "prove" that the opposition does not have vast support, and the regime is trying to do what it can to motivate the population to vote.
If you want to get an accurate feel for how the population views the current developments, you should ride a cab. The drivers of all the taxicabs I have ridden in this past month expressed their opposition to the regime and how it is dealing with America and handling the nuclear issue. If the monthly cash handouts [support payments to cover the higher prices from subsidy cuts] into people's bank accounts stop, there is a very good chance it will be the spark that brings people into the streets.