Iran Votes in Symbolic Presidential Election
Iranians voted today in an election to choose a president who has the power to run the parts of the government that do not interest the ruling mullahs.
Iranians voted Friday in a high-stakes election shaping up as the closest presidential race since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with young people disillusioned with the system run by clerics calling for an election boycott. The election carries added significance since the next president will influence Iran’s negotiations with the West over its nuclear program, and its role as a patron of the Shiite Muslim majority in neighboring Iraq.
None of the seven candidates is expected to get the 50 percent support needed to win outright, meaning the two top vote-getters will likely meet in a runoff. Iran’s previous presidential elections after the revolution were all won in the first round. The front-runner in Friday’s vote is cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989 to 1997.
On the eve of the vote, President Bush criticized the election as illegitimate, saying it was designed to keep a power in the hands of a few. “The Iranian people deserve a genuinely democratic system in which elections are honest Ã¢€” and in which their leaders answer to them instead of the other way around,” he said in a statement released by the White House. Hard-line clerics loyal to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have broad powers over Iran’s elected leaders and thwarted many of the reforms attempted by the outgoing president.
Despite this, the press tends to cover these elections as if Iran were actually a democracy. It is not.