The developments on international level influence the way of thinking and behavior of individuals, especially young people on national level. The rapid development and use of information and communication technologies such as smartphones, social online networks, like Facebook, Twitter etc. facilitates access to different source of information, increases social connections and communication and enables users to share different ideas and opinions.
According to the recent statistics, Iran had the biggest number of Internet users in 2015 in Middle East Region, i.e. 46.8 millions of users in relation to for example Saudi Arabia 18.3, Iraq 11.0, U.A.E. 8.8. The number of internet users in Iran significantly increased in comparison with 250.000 users in 2010. The majority of Internet users are young people under 30 years old who represents over 75 percent of Iran’s population.
Obviously, Iranian young people live in different environment than their parents and grand-parents. Thus, the celebrating war sacrifice that happened before 25 years through wall murals and stamps doesn’t mean a lot for them. Their way of thinking is different and they are more focused on daily material gain issue than spiritual belief in afterlife. They want to have a good living standard in accordance with their educational profile, taking into account that around 22 percent of young people between 15 and 29 are unemployed5. They represent the most restive segment of Iranian society and the biggest threats to the status quo.
Consequently, the regime should change approach with regard to young people. Instead of the actual oppression, it should give them more space in economic area, as well as political one, in the following manner:
- Change the source of legitimacy: constitutional preamble and provisions on economy
(“economy is a means not an end“);
- Increase employment rate through:
- Providing career opportunity to young people by supporting entrepreneurship and self-employment;
- Creating targeted labor market policies in order to improve labor market integration of young people;
- Encouraging foreign investment and technology in petroleum and other industries through creating an environment of security for capital, investment, and entrepreneurship;
- Reducing business activities of government organizations and the Revolutionary Guard;8
- Open political space and seem to cooperate with youth organizations, such as The Office for Consolidating Unity, The Basij 9 in order to find compromise solution.
Resolving problems involving the young and their integration in state structure are necessary for further development of the country. The members of current young population will become future leaders of Iran through protests or through cooperation with the regime. Which way they will choose is, in huge extent, up to the regime’s further policy toward them.
Main problems that regime can face in implementing these steps are: on legal level – disagreement of ideological supporters of the revolution about constitution amending; and on economic level – disagreement of actual powerful economic actors, such as Revolutionary Guard. However, legal changes and higher employment rate represent steps towards closer cooperation with the youth organizations that in this way can become partners of regime instead of opponents. Thus, it would be rational and pragmatic decision, if President Rouhani try to convince the ideological supporters of revolution, as well as the Revolutionary Guard in the necessity of change, in line with the requests of modern society.