Money printing, inflation hit Iranian voters despite oil wealth

TEHRAN, March 11, 2008 (AFP) – High inflation, unemployment, slack monetary policy and a lack of foreign investment: Iran is suffering from a litany of economic problems ahead of Friday’s legislative elections. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to power in 2005 on a platform to make the poor — many of whom have left villages to swell urban populations — feel the benefits of the world’s fourth biggest oil producer’s wealth.

But despite windfall revenues from high oil prices, this has yet to be felt by millions of low and middle-earners who are finding their real incomes dwindling further due to inflation that has reached 17.8 percent.

All political factions competing in elections have understood the economy is the main issue on voters’ minds.

“Controlling high prices and the creation of a flourishing economy” is the foremost election slogan of the reformist coalition seeking to challenge conservative control of parliament, in a clear indication of its priorities.

Likewise topping the election manifesto of the main conservative faction is the slogan “restraining inflation, job creation and the removal of state monopolies and the liberalisation of economic activities.”

Economists blame