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.

Iran Votes in Presidential Election (AP)

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 — 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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rick DeMent says:

    Seems oddly reminiscent of the Egyptian elections which the administration cited as proof his Middle East “policy” was working.

  2. Ron Wright says:

    GWB Declares Iranian Election a Fraud
    [At least that’s the meaning]

    On a related issue, here’s something you can do right now in the GWOT. A strategic window of opportunity is now opening in Iran. We must seize this moment to deliver a crushing if not fatal blow to the enemy.

    The Iranian people must hear that President Bush and the American people support their move for FREEDOM!

    The Blogos now has the power to spread this word that the MSM is not. Please pass this word and post on your sites.


    Statement by the President Bush on Iranian Elections

    In recent months, the cause of freedom has made enormous gains in the broader Middle East. Millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq defied terrorists to cast their ballots in free elections. Palestinians voted for a new president who rejects violence and is working for democratic reform, and the people of Lebanon reclaimed their sovereignty and are now voting for new leadership. Across the Middle East, hopeful change is taking place. People are claiming their liberty. And as a tide of freedom sweeps this region, it will also come eventually to Iran.


    Read more