Iranian Election: First Reaction

I read a great comment on my Twitter feed by Cobaltmale about this:

In such countries with an ‘apparent’ democracy it’s the equivalant of a cock-tease, and we know what that leads to …

Apt. Perhaps it was always going to be thus – an election to trick the increasingly modern and sophisticated electorate into believing the popular will had any sway in Iran. It’s clearly not so:

as the votes were still being counted late on Friday, aides to Ahmadinejad announced that he had won by an “unassailable” margin after polling stations stayed open four extra hours to meet the huge demand.

The interior ministry said this morning that Ahmadinejad had won a crushing victory of 63.3% to 34.7% with most of the votes counted, though the final official result was temporarily put on hold.

Even in Mousavi’s hometown province of Tabriz in north-west Iran, the ministry claimed Ahmadinejad received more than 60% of the vote.

Early editions of Mousavi’s paper Kalemeh Sabz, or the Green Word, and other reformist dailies declared Mousavi the victor but were ordered to change their headlines, local journalists said. The papers had blank spots where articles were removed.

So the polls were rigged after all. Don’t expect a second revolution – when did you last hear of a country contorting itself with a second revolution in 30 years? But where this leads now really is anyone’s guess, and it should pose significant concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, although there was no real indication that Mousavi would behave any differently than Ahmadinejad. Supreme decision making power doesn’t rest with the president after all. Abbas Barzegar says:

Perhaps from the start Mousavi was destined to fail as he hoped to combine the articulate energies of the liberal upper class with the business interests of the bazaar merchants. The Facebook campaigns and text-messaging were perfectly irrelevant for the rural and working classes who struggle to make a day’s ends meet, much less have the time to review the week’s blogs in an internet cafe. Although Mousavi tried to appeal to such classes by addressing the problems of inflation and poverty, they voted otherwise.

In the future, observers would do us a favour by taking a deeper look into Iranian society, giving us a more accurate picture of the very organic religious structures of the country, and dispensing with the narrative of liberal inevitability.

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