Analyzing the Iranian Election (Updated)

My advice: don’t. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been pronounced the winner in Iran’s presidential election:

TEHRAN —President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won Iran’s presidential election in a landslide, officials of Iran’s election commission said Saturday morning. But his main rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi, had already announced defiantly just two hours after the polls closed on Friday night that he had won and charged that there had been voting “irregularities.”

The Times reporter devotes most of the rest of the article to challenging the legitimacy of the election without a great deal of concrete evidence other than the claims of the loser and that the Times has been pitching the possibility of an upset. When the election has been portrayed, bafflingly, as a referendum on Iran’s foreign policy what other choice did the reporter have? Remember: all politics is local.

The election was illegitimate from the get-go. The “irregularities” didn’t begin yesterday. The Iranian system is one in which the elected officials have little or no real power, only candidates that have been approved by Iran’s actual rulers appear on ballots, and the mullahs, Iran’s real rulers, control the election process and the media from stem to stern.

All we can say now is than in Iran the people have spoken. The people that matter, anyway.

Update

The Washington Post quotes a few Ahmadinejad voters which may cast more light on the results:

In Shahr-e Rey, south of Tehran, voter Ali Badiri said that young women without head scarves had been dancing in the streets over Mousavi’s candidacy. “I’ll vote for Ahmadinejad, because if Mousavi wins, they will be dancing naked next week,” he said.

“We don’t want to change Iran,” said Abdollah Khalili, another Ahmadinejad voter. “We want this system to remain the way it is.”

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Drew says:

    Golly gee. I guess Obama’s speech wasn’t quite pursuasive enough to turn the election………(snicker)

  2. Brett says:

    My only quibble with the cheating indications is that if the mullahs really wanted to prevent Moussavi from winning, they could have just disqualified him from running – like they have in the past for countless unwanted candidates for office. Perhaps they’re getting more subtle at trying to maintain the farce that is Iran’s official government?

    When the election has been portrayed, bafflingly, as a referendum on Iran’s foreign policy what other choice did the reporter have?

    This is definitely one of the more bizarre narratives that developed. Had any of the people pitching actually done legitimate polling in Iran on the populace about what they were concerned about most, or even bothered to look up what Iran’s President can actually do in terms of foreign policy? About all he can do is receive ambassadors and make foreign policy that is approved by the Supreme Leader – meaning that Khamenei controls it, just like how he has de jure and de facto control over the armed forces, as well as control over when and where Iran declares war.

    The Washington Post quotes a few Ahmadinejad voters which may cast more light on the results:

    The rural areas of Iran are largely more conservative than God, and even most of the working class is similar – hence why they supported Ahmadinejad, a devout populist. The people the Times no doubt interviewed en masse – young, educated people in Tehran – are a minority.

  3. American Power tracked-back with, “Analyzing the Iranian Election?”.

  4. Billbo says:

    Civil war in Iran is now necessary. The mullahs can’t understand anything else

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Billbo, there will be no civil war in Iran. There is no organized resistance and the current regime is willing and able to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. Look at the history of hiring armed thugs to put down student protests.

  6. Brett says:

    Civil war in Iran is now necessary. The mullahs can’t understand anything else

    Good luck. The Mullahs control the Army and Police Forces (which they’ve filled with like-minded subordinates), and in addition to those they’ve got a host of paramilitary organizations that help prop up their rule.

  7. Alex Presas says:

    Iran’s so-called election results were predictable. Those in power will do anything to stay in power. Dictators and military juntas suppress human rights around the world, from countries in Africa to Asia. Iran is just another Myanmar (Burma).

  8. I’m not so sure this is Khamenei. It’s a crude, ham-fisted move. It’s clumsy and obvious. Like Ahmadinejad, like the Revolutionary Guard.

    Does anyone know enough about the Iranian military to tell us whether they might have an objection to what might be a Revolutionary Guard coup d’etat?

    This moves Iran closer to confrontation with the US and Israel because it makes it clear that the Iranian government has no legitimacy, and makes it seem more likely that they desire confrontation. I have a hard time believing that professional military would like that idea.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    This moves Iran closer to confrontation with the US and Israel because it makes it clear that the Iranian government has no legitimacy, and makes it seem more likely that they desire confrontation.

    That occurred to me, too, Michael. Although not perhaps for the same reasons.

    Whether his victory is legit or not I can’t help but imagine that Ahmadinejad will feel empowered by this. That would mean he’ll ratchet up his rhetoric and introduce more requirements for meeting with President Obama or his administration.

    My guess is the combination will move the Israelis one step closer to deciding that Iran poses more of a threat than they’re willing to endure quietly.

  10. sam says:

    @Drew

    Golly gee. I guess Obama’s speech wasn’t quite pursuasive enough to turn the election………(snicker)

    One possibility is that it was persuasive enough to galvanize the opposition and put the fear of Allah in Ahmadinejad and Co. to the point that they felt they had to steal the election. The Iranians are not some isolated-from-the-world population dependent of state-controlled media for their info, as the powers that be well know:

    The authorities closed universities in Tehran, blocked cellphone transmissions and access to Facebook and some other Web sites, and for a second day shut down text-messaging services.[Source NYT, June 14, 2009]

    Facebook, hmmm.

  11. DL says:

    Has Jimmy Carter authenticated it yet?

    Why give it credibility by calling it an election? It’s as ludecrous as calling our next census taken from Commander Obama’s Whitehouse a census -the ink is already dry on that baby.

  12. Babak Khoram says:

    Dave, you are either extremely ignorant, gullible or bought off. Either way you have no credibility.

  13. The Strategic MC says:

    “I have a hard time believing that professional military would like that idea.”

    A “professional” military would not, in fact, like that idea.

    Unfortunately, Iran has not had a “professional” military since, oh, about 1979.

  14. ammar abu arqoub says:

    I can never understand the hypocrisy of the western media!
    If Mousawi won the election, they would have told us that this is illegitimate election because the mullahs have decided everything.
    The question is why this election is illegitimate? If there was any intention to cheat, then we could have not seen the debatable atmosphere before the election.
    And those who claim that they care about democracy and human rights, why they are silent about the human rights violation in Palestine which occurs on daily basis in Palestine by the terrorist police state of Israel. Why they did not accept the Palestinian democracy? If they really care about the Iranian will then why they do not defend and support Palestinian resistance against the illegal criminal Israeli occupation of Palestine?
    I think these double standards make the westernized democracy less beautifully sounded. The west should be the last one talk about democracy and human rights as it abolish the democracy in Palestine and support the criminal policy of Israel in the land of Palestine. There is a Palestinian proverb says ‘’if your house is made up of glasses, do not throw stones on others!’’