Tehran Local Elections Expose Major Economic Disparities

The Tehran City Council announced the result of the fifth local council elections on July 26. The capital city’s District 19 recorded the highest voter turnout, with 14 percent of eligible voters taking part in the elections, followed closely by District 12, with 10 percent, and District 18 with 8 percent, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) reported, citing the head of the Elections Executive Committee Mohammad Javadi Yeganeh.

“The lowest voter turnout was in precincts with poorly equipped polling stations,” Mr. Yeganeh said. “Abbas Abad neighborhood in District 20, Sirus in District 12, and Mahalat, Moradabad, and Kouhsar in District 5 experienced the lowest turnout.”

As Kayhan London tweeted on Aug. 1: “Only 509,000 people voted in the fifth local council elections in Tehran. District 19 experienced the highest voter turnout with only 14 percent of its constituency casting its ballots. District 12 with 10 percent came second. What are the economic conditions in these two districts? The district has the largest economic inequality, highest number of impoverished children, a record number of reported domestic abuse incidents. It is also the most crime-ridden neighborhood.”


the exploitation of children in the 19th district of Tehran. Source: Kayhan London

Kayhan Life has used official data and reports to analyze the demographics and population economics of districts 12 and 19.

•“The most disadvantaged people in Tehran live mostly in Districts, 19, 15, 18 and 16,” the Mehr News Agency reported on November 9, 2013.

•“The most impoverished children live in District 19,” Aftab News reported on June 19, 2013.

•“The highest number of domestic abuse incidents occur in districts 7, 12 and 19,” Mashregh News reported on September 25, 2013.

•“Many homes in districts 12, 17 and 19 do not have indoor plumbing,” Mashregh News reported on September 25, 2013.

•“Districts 18, 5, and 12 are the most crime-ridden areas in Tehran,” Serat online news reported on December 15, 2015.  “The highest number of home break-ins have occurred in these districts.”

•“The highest number of car thefts occur in districts 12, 17 and 20,” Mehr News Agency reported on July 20, 2019.

•“The number of homes sold in District 19 was considerably less than those put on the market successfully in the rest of the city,” Tasnim news agency said on May 1, 2018.

•“District 19 has the highest number of homeless people,” Mizan online news agency reported on December 12, 2016. “District 19 is also one of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.”

•“There are more addicts in districts 2 and12 than any other parts of the city,” Aftab News reported on July 24, 2017.

•“People living in the poor districts of 12, 10, and 18 are most critical of the local councils, and least trusting of the officials at the Tehran City Hall,” Tasnim news agency reported on July 1, 2019.

•“Districts 17, 11 and 12 have the highest number of people who sleep rough in cardboard boxes,” Eghtesad Newspaper reported on July 4, 2019.

•“Districts 17, 19 and 12 have the highest number of street beggars and panhandlers,” Khabar Online reported on July 1, 2019.

•“Women feel least safe in districts 12, 13, and 18,” Tasnim news agency reported on July 1, 2019.

•“Districts 15, 20, 19, 9 and 21 are the least developed neighborhoods in Tehran,” according to a report by Salamat News on January 26, 2016.

•“Districts 17, 18 and 12 have the highest number of street sex workers,” Eghtesad News reported on July 4, 2019.


Some sort of waste depot in Dolatkhah neighborhood. Source: Kayhan London

District 19 is one of the least safe areas in Tehran. In an interview with Afkar News online on May 8, 2016, Musa Sohrabi, the secretary of District 19 local council, said: “The police do not address the situation in District 19. Harassment, robbery, and assault are everyday occurrences. Public parks have become venues for drinking alcohol, gambling, and drug use. Streets are poorly lit. People are afraid of the dark alleys.”


Thugs and criminals are regularly released after few days of detention. Source: Kayhan London

“We have heard of only one arrest outside the precinct in Nematabad,” ILNA (Iranian Labor News agency) reported on July 26, citing Hamid Tahaei, the head of the security committee for the fifth local council elections.

In the fourth council elections in 2015, the votes from a ballot box in Nematabad in District 19 were discounted because of suspected irregularities, ILNA reported at the time, citing Mohammad Salari, the head of the Elections Supervisory Board.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]