Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No longer an entitlement

As the economy and government benefits tighten, can the political leaders maintain their legitimacy?

To save money, Iran ends popular cash payout program
In a bid to cut spending, the Iranian government has ended a massive cash assistance program and launched a celebrity-driven campaign to convince millions of Iranians that they do not need the help.

It’s unlikely to be a popular message. As of last month, more than 90 percent of Iranians were receiving monthly direct deposits from the government of about $15 — a sum that many… depended on to buy staples whose prices have soared in recent years.

The payments were launched in 2010 by then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as part of a program to reduce state subsidies on utilities and food…

On Friday, the government of President Hassan Rouhani sent the final payment to Iranians’ bank accounts, and it is taking applications to determine how many people really need the help…

Ahmadinejad’s government originally intended to deliver the deposits only to the needy. But analysts say a combination of limited income data and political turmoil after Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 election led him to view the aid as an opportunity to placate a restless society…

Increasing prices and the national currency’s diminished purchasing power have been among Iranians’ core complaints for several years. If these problems are not resolved, they threaten to undermine the new government’s popularity…

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