From The Wall Street Journal: Iran's 'Democracy' -- A rigged election, no reformist victory.
The most astonishing aspect of Friday's presidential vote in Iran is not that the elections will go into a second round but that Tehran managed to convince so many in the West that this is a real demonstration of democracy.
All power is held by Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, his Council of Guardians and the small clique of military officers and businessmen around him. The Council disqualified more than 1,000 candidates before the election, vetting only contestants who support the regime's ideological lines. The example of outgoing "reformist" President Mohammad Khatami, who presided over eight years of economic decline and worsening repression, has proven that the President cannot change anything against the Council's will.
The one number worth parsing in Friday's election is that of voter participation. Many Iranians had called for a boycott as the only way of showing resistance. Knowing this, the mullahs seem to have taken their usual election manipulations to another level. Intimidation by the Revolutionary Guards and the fact that proof of voting is needed for certain jobs and welfare payments have always pushed up turnout. Still, voter participation has steadily declined in the past few years to barely 50%.
They couldn’t even stage a phony election without appearing inept and thuggish, which is certainly not the image they wanted to send to the world. And the spectacle of intense internal conflict among leading figures in the Islamic republic makes me wonder if the revolution is beginning to devour its own fathers and sons.
First, the numbers. The regime had made it clear that the size of the turnout would indicate its legitimacy with the public, so they had to come up with big numbers. After hours of hilarious confusion, during which the "official" numbers oscillated wildly and different vote totals were announced by the interior ministry and the Council of Guardians, the regime finally decided to claim that something like 65 percent of eligible Iranians had voted. But most clear-eyed observers with the freedom to move around the country and actually go to polling places, found very few voters. ...
The lowest participation -- maybe as low as 3-5 percent -- was in Khuzestan Province, where there had been bombings and protests in recent weeks. But anecdotal evidence from all over the country indicated a very low turnout, as of late afternoon. Despite this, the mullahs trotted out rosy reports of big voter turnouts, and even broadcast "live" TV coverage of voters queued up, waiting patiently to make their voices heard.
The only problem was that the pictures were from past elections. One woman called up a Tehran radio station to say that she was sitting at home watching the tube, and saw herself voting. Very droll indeed.
And from Iran Press News: Tahkeem Vahdat: Boycott the bogus elections, this regime is not reformable.
The University Student offices of Tahkeem'eh Vahdat has sent out a bulletin reiterating it's stance: "based on an all points boycott of this bogus election and the immovability and unreformability of the regime ruling over Iran; we consider this fake election to be disastrous, highly restrictive and utterly ineffective and the office of the president should be castigated for this pathetic show of force."
In several parts of this bulletin, the members of Tahkeem'eh Vahdat have referred to this as a filthy stain on Khatami's departing report card and went on to say that Khatami showed once again that he never had the will to defend and protect the most evident rights of the people of Iran to the ruling powermongers in the country.
The latter story is via Free Thoughts who, as always, is closely following this and other Iran-related stories.
Posted by Forkum at June 21, 2005 04:49 PM