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Record turnout predicted for Iranian election -

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PETER CAVE: Observers in Iran are predicting a record turnout for today's presidential election.

The campaign has been one of the liveliest the country has seen since the Islamic revolution of 30
years ago, with thousands of people attending demonstrations and some young people turning
political rallies turning into late night parties.

Analysts are reluctant to predict the outcome as the race has tightened between the conservative
incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his reformist rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

(Sound of a motorcycle)

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Tehran's congested streets have been packed for the past few days with cars
decorated in banners, flags and posters either backing the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or his
main rival Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

There are no reliable opinion polls but if the crowds at rallies are anything to go by, Mr Mousavi
is mounting a strong challenge.

He's popular with wealthier, urban Iranians and young people and he's promising to fix Iran's
relationship with the international community.

That's earned him the support of people like this merchant who says business has deteriorated under
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

IRANIAN MERCHANT: For me as a business man is catastrophe due to the sanction. Most of my goods
have been confiscated in Dubai ports and I am really want a change, a big change.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The economy could prove to be president's Achilles heel. He was elected on a
platform of bringing oil revenues to every family but under his Government inflation has risen and
the market is experiencing an unprecedented recession.

This tradesman wants to see a turnaround.

IRANIAN TRADESMAN (translated): We have a lot of problems in housing, especially for the youth.
Creating jobs for them and unemployment is also a problem. We currently have lots of problems. It
will be much better if our President fix these problems somehow rather than just talking.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Despite the scenes of people demanding change in Tehran this week, it could be
a different situation in rural areas where the President has spent a lot of time travelling and
setting up development projects.

Gambar Nedari is an Iranian journalist who's supporting the President. He says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
will win the votes of devout and poor Iranians in the provinces.

GAMBAR NEDARI: This is a man that has come from a poor background. He is a made politician. He
doesn't have any connection with any other politician. He has worked his way to the top and it is
all because of his own efforts and this is as simple as that. He is not corrupt.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But that's disputed by volunteer Emir Darra Soap from the Mousavi campaign.

EMIR DARRA SOAP: So many people accuse Mr Ahmadinejad of so many things regarding banks, loans and
everything about this issue. And I do think Mr Mousavi is religious and he has really good
background reputation, especially during the war time.

People are supporting him and even in areas that you mention, the rural area and villages and these
areas, even poor people supporting Mr Mousavi.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Mir-Hossein Mousavi has also attracted support by promising greater civil
liberties and women's rights but it's unclear if he will be able to implement any major social
reforms.

Professor Amin Saikal is an Iranian expert at the Australian National University.

AMIN SAIKAL: One must not really forget that the conservative forces will still remain in control
of the most instrumentalities of the state power like the armed forces, the security forces, the
judiciary as well as a number of important revolutionary committees.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Professor Saikal says the National Assembly is dominated by the conservative
clergy and he says the most important decisions about domestic and foreign policy will still be
determined by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

AMIN SAIKAL: On the other hand they will also have to be very careful that they will not be able to
go too far on those issues simply because Mr Mousavi will be in a position to call his supporters
on the streets and that could result in major clashes between the conservatives and the moderate
Islamists in the country and that could only result in political destabilisation, social
destabilisation.

PETER CAVE: Professor Amin Saikal from the Australian National University ending that report from
Meredith Griffiths.