Iranian Elections

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  • #1
MATLABdude
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I haven't seen anybody else post this, so I figured I might as well.

According to the official tally, with a turn-out of 85% of eligible voters, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has secured himself a second-term as the President of Iran, winning 62.6% of the vote, against:
  • Reformist candidate (and former Prime Minister) Mir-Hossein Mousavi, 33.75% of the vote
  • Mohsen Rezai (who denounces Ahmadinejad for not doing enough vis a vis the west), 1.75%, and
  • Mehdi Karroubi (another reformist candidate), 0.9%

Above figures from the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098305.stm

Since this would make Ahmadinejad the single most popular President in Iranian history (raw number and percentage of vote), and has him crushing Mousavi by nearly a two to one ratio (polls, such as they are, had predicted a victory for Mousavi, or at least a tighter race), various parties are crying foul, led by Mousavi himself:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...-wont-accept-Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-victory.html

Juan Cole deconstructs the results, though it's mostly circumstantial in nature:
http://www.juancole.com/2009/06/stealing-iranian-election.html

Stratfor reports unconfirmed rumours that the head of the Expediency Council (think of them as the election monitors), Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, has resigned declaring the elections invalid, and calling for a do-over:
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/followup-on-earlier-posts.html

Since the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) and Guardian Council gets to, in effect, scrap the election results, and has the prerogative to name the President themselves, the fact that this is happening is rather odd. They also hold ultimate say over the direction of the country, and the President (though he gets a great deal of latitude in terms of the economy) is viewed as a figure head. Presidential Elections (once the candidates have been 'vetted' by the Guardian Council for suitability) have largely been run fairly in the past (and Reformist Khatami won two terms as President). Assuming the election has, in fact, been stolen, there would really be no reason for the Supreme Leader to do it.

There are some who think that, in actuality, a coup has occurred, with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the military taking control of the government, and keeping the Supreme Leader on as a figurehead. Others think that perhaps this a coup from the top on down, while still others think that perhaps we were all bamboozled by a good story of a Reformist, pro-western candidate, and/or expecting Tehran and the young to represent the whole of the country. All three of the above scenarios are presented at:
http://www.mideastanalysis.com/1/post/2009/06/what-happened-in-iran.html

Nevertheless, there's at least some degree of rioting, murmurings and anecdotal tales of ballot shenanigans, and a whole lot of confusion as to what's going on over there (journalists are having their visas revoked, and being asked to leave the country). There's a lot of Iranian grad students at my university, but I haven't seen or talked to any of them since before the elections. I don't know of any that *AREN'T* liberal pro-Reformist types, but that seems to be the prevailing sentiment over there amongst the young and educated.

FYI, I heard that something like 2/3 of Iranians are under 25!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #3
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Of course the elections were rigged, they were always going to be rigged. Mir Hossain Moussavi represents the side of pragmatism, a side that wants to negotiate cautiously with the West and avoid the inflammatory rhetoric of Ahmadinejad. But the Guardian Council, Ministry of Interior and the Revolutionary Guards probably got together and decided that Moussavi represents a danger to the 'revolutionary' ideals of the Islamic Republic especially in light of Obama's outreach.

I doubt any coup took place but honestly, Ali Khamenei has to agree with the hardliners. Although he himself has tried to steer a course between hardliners and the pragmatic conservatives, at this point in time, the hardliners call the shots. He has neither the charisma nor the willingness to challenge them.

Ahmadinejad does have a following amongst the poor and parts of the working class, all he did was bribe them with money though. Iran is definitely going to face trouble now, apparently the latest news is that Moussavi is under house arrest and yes Rafsanjani has retired. That was to be expected, Rafsanjani was humiliated by Ahmadinejad and furthermore, his power and standing amongst the ruling elite has now diminished.
 
  • #4
MATLABdude
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Khamenei did certify the elections, proclaim the strength of the revolution / the people, and called for calm, but why should he bother rigging the elections when, in the event of a Mousavi victory, he can literally wave his hands (on a piece of paper), invalidate the election, and make Ahmadinejad president?

EDIT: Wow, sounds like Rafsanjani has been Zhiyanged:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhao_Ziyang
 
  • #5
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That is not the way Khamenei does things. He rarely makes a public show of his powers, everything is done behind the scenes. The problem here is not only Ahmadinejad winning the election, the margin that he won by seems fantastical, 67% compared to Moussavi 33%. The reason Khatami won the elections in 1997 was due to him rallying Iranians from all the across the political divide and especially the students. Ahmadinejad won narrowly in 2005 due to the reformists boycotting the vote. This year, the reformists turned out in large numbers to vote and still Ahmadinejad won by a record margin? That is just unbelievable.

I guess all the world can hope for is that the president elect can tone down his racist, ugly rhetoric that has hurt Iran's image abroad and respond favorably to President Obama's outreach.
 
  • #6
Gokul43201
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Of course the elections were rigged, they were always going to be rigged. Mir Hossain Moussavi represents the side of pragmatism, a side that wants to negotiate cautiously with the West and avoid the inflammatory rhetoric of Ahmadinejad. But the Guardian Council, Ministry of Interior and the Revolutionary Guards probably got together and decided that Moussavi represents a danger to the 'revolutionary' ideals of the Islamic Republic especially in light of Obama's outreach.
Yet Khatami, who was Finance Minister under Mousavi, who was PM) was "allowed" to win twice. And Khatami threw his support behind Mousavi for this election.

Why should the GC "block" Mousavi (not saying they didn't) through irregular means (they could have blocked his nomination in the first place - they have the power to do that) when they didn't block Khatami? I guess my question is aimed at examining possible motive.
 
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  • #7
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They did not block Mousavi because there would be dissent from the pragmatists and reformists for not having at least one of their candidates competing. Normally, even the conservatives agree that there should be at least one reformist candidate participating. While not as strong as the hardliners, they do have some notable members in powerful positions. Also they probably grossly underestimated the strength of the reformist movement and the fact that quite a few Iranians are not happy with Ahmadinejad's economic policies.

During 1997-2005, Iran's ruling elite probably felt more safer than they do now. It might have been a 'lets see what happens' scenario. Khatami asked for too much reform and most of his policies were scuttled away by Ayatollah Khamenei. With the nuclear program, Obama's unclenching of the fist etc, the ruling elite probably feel they need one of their men in charge. Ahmadinejad and his revolutionary zeal helps promote the principles of the Islamic republic according to the elite. In fact, quite a few powerful clerics want him to stay on as president forever.

It does seem hard to understand what they do, a whole library of books and data has been written on Iran since the revolution and yet, unless you are part of the government, it is very hard to know what is going on.
 
  • #8
Gokul43201
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They did not block Mousavi because there would be dissent from the pragmatists and reformists for not having at least one of their candidates competing. Normally, even the conservatives agree that there should be at least one reformist candidate participating.
Keep in mind that Karroubi is also a reformist.

During 1997-2005, Iran's ruling elite probably felt more safer than they do now. It might have been a 'lets see what happens' scenario. Khatami asked for too much reform and most of his policies were scuttled away by Ayatollah Khamenei. With the nuclear program, Obama's unclenching of the fist etc, the ruling elite probably feel they need one of their men in charge. Ahmadinejad and his revolutionary zeal helps promote the principles of the Islamic republic according to the elite.
This may be possible, but I remember reading a while ago something about Khamenei considering Ahmadinejad an embarrassment (can't recall if it was news or opinion, will have to look for the source)

In fact, quite a few powerful clerics want him to stay on as president forever.
Interesting - I hadn't heard that. Do you have a source for it?
 
  • #9
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...s-aims-to-be-Irans-next-spiritual-leader.html

There were a few other sites too, where Yazdi apparently gave a fatwa saying that Ahmadinejad's election in 2005 was god given and finally there is a true Islamic republic. He has much clout with the Revolutionary Guards and is part of the powerful Assembly of Experts (in charge of selecting a new Supreme Leader and supervising his activities).

Yea, Khamenei has had a few disagreements with Ahmadinejad although they have not spilled over into public domain. Karroubi is a reformist too but no chance he would win, he personally insulted Khamenei's son in the last election accusing him of election fraud which resulted in an absolute uproar. In fact, it was surprising that he managed to get through the Guardian Council filter to compete at all.
 
  • #10
Office_Shredder
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CBS reports a fairly worrying development

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/14/world/main5087285.shtml?tag=topStory;topStoryHeadline

Mackell says the crackdown on protests has also extended to journalists, making it almost impossible for the media to cover the story. "I saw yesterday a Japanese camera crew who have full government permission and were working with an approved government translator, still were beaten and arrested by the police for filming at a protest. That kind of thing is happening to a lot of people. Journalists are having their cameras taken.

"There's been a decision not to extend any press visas. None of the foreign press are going to have their visas extended. And because the visas are only given out for a week to ten days to start with, that means very shortly all of the foreign press will be gone, except for those who have bureaus here.

"I wouldn't say the police have been showing restraint, they're been really going hard after the protestors, but after the foreign press goes, who knows what will happen.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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Khamenei did certify the elections, proclaim the strength of the revolution / the people, and called for calm, but why should he bother rigging the elections when, in the event of a Mousavi victory, he can literally wave his hands (on a piece of paper), invalidate the election, and make Ahmadinejad president?
Because it is much better politically to rig an election than to throw it out after the fact. The rigging can't be proven and it enables them to claim (as A-jad has) that he's a democratically elected leader.

The thing that annoys me is that the tone of the media the past few weeks didn't really go into this issue at all. It left me thinking that this might actually be a real election and A-jad might actually lose. Then after the fact, they say - 'oh, and by the way, it doesn't matter anyway because he doesn't have supreme political power in the country and is a farce of a figurehead'. Of course I knew that, but I allowed myself to forget it.
 
  • #12
MATLABdude
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Because it is much better politically to rig an election than to throw it out after the fact. The rigging can't be proven and it enables them to claim (as A-jad has) that he's a democratically elected leader.

The thing that annoys me is that the tone of the media the past few weeks didn't really go into this issue at all. It left me thinking that this might actually be a real election and A-jad might actually lose. Then after the fact, they say - 'oh, and by the way, it doesn't matter anyway because he doesn't have supreme political power in the country and is a farce of a figurehead'. Of course I knew that, but I allowed myself to forget it.
I think there's something else to remember here: you and I have a notion of what electing a Presider / Prime Minister means, but the Iranians know that the true leader is going to be the Supreme Leader. So the Iranians nod and smile, keep their heads down, and hope that things might just be a little better under the new figurehead. What better way to show who's boss than to come in and invalidate an election? Everything he does is divinely-ordained, and he has the ability to 'correct' the results of any election to suit this. Although I will agree that even dictators have some notion of 'optics' (as much as I dislike that word)--or some notion of 'why not make things fair? the people love me!'.

I still think there's some credence to the internal coup theory. Despite Ahmadinejad's ultraconservative values, and thus presumed alignment with the clerics, elections in the past have been run pretty fair, and according to the rules laid out ahead of time. What might've happened if they saw the returns, realized that things weren't going their way, and Ahmadinejad goes up to the Supreme Leader and says, "Certify this. Or else."? The 'or else' being that at the very least, there's a new Supreme Leader (say, Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor and mentor Mohammad Mesbah-Yazdi) or that Iran is torn asunder in civil war:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Taghi_Mesbah_Yazdi
 
  • #13
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I think these events are great because they expose the sham of a government in Iran.
 
  • #14
LowlyPion
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Whatever the case as to the elections, those that collected the vote and counted it, must know that if the election of Ahmadi-Nejad is faked, that they are in serious trouble. Clamping the kettle tighter, only means a bigger explosion later. To the extent that they suppress popular demonstration, arrest, and beat ... so shall they reap. It is not a good crop to be planting, and it seems that now they sowing lots of seeds, pretty indiscriminately.

The Mullahs only kid themselves, if they think that lying or cheating the people of an actual election will ultimately accomplish anything, but hasten their complete repudiation. Water seeks its own level. These younger people become older, and the Mullahs age and die.

Perhaps Obama's rise is symptomatic of a more profound seismic shift in generations that is springing up everywhere?
 
  • #15
mheslep
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Tehran appears to be coming unglued after the election.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098896.stm
http://garysick.tumblr.com/post/123578958/tehran-street-clashes-a-policeman-is-taken-by
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/06/iran-on-fire.php

Totten points out a dedicated You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ahriman46&view=videos

With good reason by some reports:
On the basis of what we know so far, here is the sequence of events starting on the afternoon of election day, Friday, June 12.

* Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
* Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
* The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
* National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
* The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull them into complacency
* But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
* Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
* The voting patterns announced by the government were identical in all parts of the country, an impossibility (also see the comments of Juan Cole at the title link)
* Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene`i publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
* Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.
http://garysick.tumblr.com/post/123070238/irans-political-coup
 
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  • #16
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The coup theory, although interesting, should probably be discarded. Firstly, Ali Khamenei forged many useful contacts within the Revolutionary Guards and most of this trusted advisors are spread through Iran's political and security apparatus. Secondly, Mesbah Yazdi, although popular amongst the hardline militia like the Basij, does not have the clout or power to unite all the different factions behind him. Remember he lost the Assembly of Experts election to Rafsanjani.

Most likely, Khamenei, a conservative who shares many of the aspirations of the hardliners, felt the need to stop any openings that could have thawed relations between the West. Khamenei certainly does not want to normalise relations with the West, certainly will not bow down to pressure over the nuclear program and certainly will not abandon any of the repressive domestic policies like morality police, widespread censorship etc. Therefore, he may have forced the Ministry of Interior to announce that Ahmadinejad had won. The president of Iran is the Supreme Leader's poster boy who hardly has much powers within the establishment.
 
  • #17
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I wish I could share your optimism LowlyPion but the facts are that even the reformists were once revolutionary zealots who still love the Islamic Republic and its clerical establishment. For a revolution to occur, there needs to be a charismatic leader who would not have grown up during the revolution and the conflict with Iraq. There has to be widespread dissent around Iran, not just the sporadic clashes seen in a few cities.
 
  • #19
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The Telegraph story is very disturbing. Live ammunition! If there is a protest which is a real possibility, hundreds could be killed.
 
  • #20
turbo
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I can't find the story right now, but I'll see if it pops up again. The reporter claimed that a major cause for suspicion amongst supporters of the reformers was the fact that the election results were reported so quickly after the election, with little or no chance that all those paper ballots could have been counted during the intervening time. We'll see where this leads...
 
  • #21
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The internet is simply amazing. Take these comments/tweets with a grain of salt.

http://friendfeed.com/iran-primary-sources [Broken]
http://twitter.com/persiankiwi
http://iran.twazzup.com/?q=%23IranElection [Broken]
 
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  • #22
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There were other reasons too. The fact that Ahmadinejad won Tabriz and Tehran by a decent margin is astounding to say the least. Tabriz is the hometown of Mir Hossain Mousavi and he is extremely popular there. With Tehran, even though Ahmadinejad was the mayor, many in the city are not particularly fond of him either. Also, the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei announced pretty quickly that Ahmadinejad had won and the Iranian nation should rally behing the president elect. Normally, the constitution of Iran post revolution states that officially, the victor is announced after three days and then Khamenei makes the announcement.
 
  • #23
Gokul43201
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I happened upon a website[1] that makes a pretty compelling case for fraud, if you accept the authenticity of its source data. It says that partial results announced during all stages of counting maintained a constant ratio of Ahmadinejad votes : Mousavi votes.

http://tehranbureau.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/linearvote-590x493.jpg [Broken]
The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi’s votes, and the horizontal (x) the President’s. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data.

Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting. This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own.
I tried to verify the data by going to the source website[2], but couldn't tell easily where the numbers came from. Do we have someone here that can read Farsi?

Ref:
1. http://tehranbureau.com/2009/06/13/faulty-election-data/ [Broken] *
2. See, for example, http://jamejamonline.ir/newstext.aspx?newsnum=100909281058

* Note: This is not a reliable, mainstream source.
 
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  • #24
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http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e201157114ecdd970b-800wi [Broken]

Guy in the blue shirt white beard is Mousavi at the present protest.
 
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  • #25
mheslep
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I happened upon a website[1] that makes a pretty compelling case for fraud, if you accept the authenticity of its source data. It says that partial results announced during all stages of counting maintained a constant ratio of Ahmadinejad votes : Mousavi votes.

http://tehranbureau.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/linearvote-590x493.jpg [Broken]


I tried to verify the data by going to the source website[2], but couldn't tell easily where the numbers came from. Do we have someone here that can read Farsi?

Ref:
1. http://tehranbureau.com/2009/06/13/faulty-election-data/ [Broken] *
2. See, for example, http://jamejamonline.ir/newstext.aspx?newsnum=100909281058

* Note: This is not a reliable, mainstream source.
Also past elections show wide swings in outcome among the various provinces, according to some of the sites I posted above, nothing like this near 1.0 fit.
 
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