The recent City and Village Councils elections were full of newsworthy wonders and phenomena; from the victory of a blind man and a street vendor in the cities of Bijar and Khorramabad, to the entry of 415 women into the councils of the deprived southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.
The surprising victory of a street sweeper in the northern city of Rasht was also reported by IFP in an earlier story.
Nevertheless, Loqman Behrouzi, 29, who is about to obtain his PhD degree in political science and international relations from the University of London, has above all, stolen the spotlight.
Behrouzi, a young PhD student who contested Iran’s City and Village Councils elections in the city of Javanrud in Western Iran, in a symbolic move after the voting day, dressed up as a street sweeper and collected his election campaign flyers from the streets after his failure to win a seat in the Council.
Following the holding of the local election, he put on the uniform worn by street sweepers in Iran and collected all the flyers he had used during his electoral campaign from the streets and threw them into waste tanks.
The symbolic and valuable move by Behrouzi, who interestingly failed to win a seat in the local election, stole the social media spotlight following the election, as, indubitably, he is the very first Iranian candidate ever to have taken on such a responsibility one day after the election. His move came as, after the simultaneous holding of Iran’s presidential and local elections on May 19, streets in a large number of Iranian cities were covered with candidates’ posters and paper ads; a mess that could bring the country’s street sweepers enormous trouble.
Behrouzi’s beautiful move was aimed at preserving the urban environment and upholding the rights of his fellow citizens.
He said that his love to serve his countrymen had motivated him to come to Iran from Finland a few months before the local election to compete for a seat in Javanrud’s City Council and be able to improve the living condition of the people in the city.
Commenting on his move, Behrouzi said, “Seven people have managed to enter Javanrud’s City Council. I, however, only garnered 3,936 votes, 400 less than required, to stand ninth among the city’s candidates and failed to win a seat.
“Prior to the election, I had promised the people of the city that, in case of entering the council, I would convince Javanrud’s mayor as well as other members of the council to put on street sweepers’ uniform once in a month and clean the streets.”
“Such a move would both let people know that their officials are not used to sitting idle behind their desks in their offices and encourage them to play a more significant role in maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of their city and preserving their urban environment. This will also help lighten the burden shouldered by street sweepers.”
He said he did not have any paper ads or posters, which make the city look ugly, and instead had only used flyers with a length and width of 100cm and 70cm, respectively.
“I had hung 600 flyers with the same size across the city. The law required all candidates to use only this size of banners. However, the size of others candidates’ ads, sometimes, reached 20 metres.”
Asked about why he has returned to his county, he said he always felt that to put his willingness to serve others into action, after reaching a certain level of knowledge, he should go back to his country and serve the people of his own city.
Behrouzi said, “I managed to obtain my MA in international law from the University of London and immediately was admitted to the same university in a PhD course in political science and international relations. I will soon defend my thesis.”
He also pointed to the opportunity he had for running in another election outside Iran. “I used to live in Turku [on the southwest coast of Finland]. The city has a population of about 180,000. Due to my cordial relations with Turku’s Municipality, I was offered, several times, to run in Finland’s local elections to win a seat in the Finnish town’s city council. Nevertheless, since I have always loved Iran, I, along with my wife and only child, decided to come back to Iran. This is while, my wife and I had a lot of social and job opportunities in Finland.”