x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fighting words

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's final campaign speeches focused on how unfairly he felt he was treated during the election race.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's final campaign speeches were not about how he planned to fix his country's struggling economy. Rather they focused on how unfairly he felt he was treated during the campaign. He appeared on television late on Wednesday night following an announcement by the Iranian state broadcaster that candidates would be given extra airtime to defend themselves. Perhaps in sympathy to Mr Ahmadinejad's complaints that he was the only one being criticised, he was granted 20 minutes to respond while his three other opponents were given a minute each.

It is also possible that Mr Ahmadinejad felt he owed his supporters who were unable to hear one of his final campaign speeches, reportedly having been stuck in traffic caused by a massive rally for his chief rival Mir-Hossein Mousavi. But Mr Ahmadinejad's frustrations turned to threats in the final hours of campaigning. He accused his opponents of insulting the president, a jailable offence. Maybe he was referring to the popular but admittedly crude chant of his opponents: "Ahmadi bye bye." With the tone of the Iranian campaign having grown increasingly shrill, the 24-hour ban imposed on rallies and speeches before today's vote may have been wise.