DATE=2/17/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=IRAN ELECTIONS / VOTERS NUMBER=5-45478 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=TEHRAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Iranians are voting Friday for a new parliament. More than five-thousand candidates affiliated with two dozen political parties and groups are running for the 290 seats. Correspondent Scott Bobb went into the streets of Tehran to talk to people about the campaign and what it means to them. TEXT: It's the middle of the week and business is brisk at Tajzish Market lying at the foothills of snow- covered mountains in north Tehran. The weather is cool. It snowed recently. Most people are in a hurry, but some are willing to discuss the elections. Mehdi is a shopkeeper in the market. Standing in front of his electric supply shop, he says he is confused by the campaign. /// MEHDI ACT IN FARSI WITH TRANSLATOR IN ENGLISH /// There are so many candidates that one gets very confused because the candidates' slogans are very similar to one another. /// END ACT /// In another part of the market, Zein Ali sits on a stool by his fruit stand. A young man, he complains that every election the candidates make promises, but as soon as they are elected they forget them. He is asked if he has made his decision. /// ZEIN ALI ACT IN FARSI WITH TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH /// To be honest with you, no not really. I haven't really decided, because I don't think what needs to be done is taking place. I don't think that real democracy is coming around. /// END ACT /// Zein Ali says he hopes some day there will be a truly free Iran where he says the people's decision has some impact. An elderly retiree named Said is buying bread. He says the election is a good thing and the young should participate to elect a true, honest representative. /// SAID ACT IN FARSI WITH ENSLISH TRANSLATION /// I want comfort for people and social justice for people, with work for people so that we have a better culture than we have. /// END ACT /// Two sisters dressed in colorful headscarves stop their shopping to discuss who they will vote for. The older of the two, Nasserine, answers first. /// NASSERINE IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// After consulting with my husband, I will make up my mind. /// END ACT /// The younger of the two, Sima, is more expressive. She says when she was at the university several years ago, she was involved in politics, but was told to stop because she was propagating bad ideas. She says she will not vote because she does not know enough about the candidates. /// SIMA IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// I have studied some of these people and I see that I don't have enough acquaintance. I don't know them well enough. And some of them I think are not up to it. /// END ACT /// A middle-aged lady rushes by, too busy to give her name. When asked, she speaks disdainfully about the elections and the campaign. /// LADY IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// [Lady]: What use is this. It (is) useless. Anything they said they didn't take action. [Reporter]: Do you vote? [Lady]: I am in the camp of ... I am in Khatami's campaign. /// END ACT /// In one of the shop-lined alleys, a woman named Mrs. Mansouri is handing out small cards. On one side is a calendar and on the other a photograph of her candidate, who happens to be her brother. She says she has been passing out the cards now for two weeks. She is asked if people discuss her brother's candidacy with her. /// MANSOURI IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// Absolutely not. I don't know why. People don't talk to me at all. /// END ACT /// Iranian leaders for weeks have been urging people to vote, saying it is important for their democracy. Part of the reason for the confusion is because hundreds of candidates are running for the thirty seats in Tehran district. Moreover, some of the best known candidates were disqualified by a vetting (screening) committee for a lack of commitment to Islam and the country's religious leaders. Some reformists say they want to liberalize election procedures so that they are less restrictive. But even the reformists sometimes have trouble getting their message across. (signed) NEB/SB/JP 17-Feb-2000 18:07 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 2307 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .