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Dec22-06, 12:55 PM
P: 248
A good editorial by Amir Taheri: Wounded but Alive: Could Ahmadinejad Become More Dangerous?
The blow dealt at Ahmadinejad is primarily a Tehran phenomenon. The capital city, with a population of some 15 million, is the stronghold of middle classes that have been frightened by the president incendiary rhetoric and alleged cravings for a "Clash of Civilisations" that could lead to war.

The key reason for Ahmadinejad's defeat in Tehran and other major cities was the unexpectedly high turnout, estimated by the Interior Ministry at over 47 per cent. In Tehran, for example, no more than 700,000 people had voted in the previous election. This time the number jumped to more than two million out of some five million eligible to vote. According to newspaper reports and eyewitnesses in Tehran, most of the new voters were young, westernise middle class men and women who made no secret of their determination to deal a blow to Ahmadinejad.

Voting in Iranian elections is always problematic. Since all candidates are approved by the authorities in advance, most citizens are barred from running for office. Also, the results must be approved by a 12-man body of mullahs who could stroke anybody's name from the list of winners, often on spurious grounds. Nevertheless, many Iranians believe that even such limited and patently undemocratic elections could provide an opportunity for affecting the balance of power within the ruling establishment.

There is no doubt that this is what Iranian voters have done, at least as far as the AOE is concerned. The question now is whether Khamenehi, with the Damoclean sword that Ahmadinejad wished to hang over his head out of the way, will try to rein in the firebrand president.
As always in Iranian politics under Khomeinism, good news comes mixed with bad. Ahmadinejad is wounded but still very much alive. And that, according to Machiavelli, is when a political animal is at his most dangerous.