Blog-Archive

What the world will learn from Iran’s election

By Robin Wright

The field of candidates may be limited, but the outside world can still learn a lot from Iran’s 2013 presidential poll. The election will provide three pivotal metrics about the Islamic republic now that the Ahmadinejad era is ending.

      First, the (real) turnout at the polls will indicate how many Iranians still have an interest in the world’s only modern theocracy. The government is quite obsessed with the number of people who vote to prove it still has a public mandate. Voting has become almost an existential issue for the ruling clerics.
      “A vote for any of these eight candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic and a vote of confidence in the system and our electoral process,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a public appeal on June 4. He charged that the outside world was plotting to ensure a low turnout. Leaders clearly hope at least 60 percent of the estimated 50 million voters will turn out.
            Second, reaction to the results will signal whether the public deems the election process itself legitimate. It’s no small issue. Many Iranians believed the 2009 presidential poll was fraught with fraud—and that Ahmadinejad was not really reelected. The reaction sparked the greatest challenge to the Iranian regime since the 1979 revolution. It gave birth to a new opposition movement.
            Over the next eight months, millions turned out in cities across Iran to challenge the results—and to demand “Where is my vote?” The regime used brutal force, arrested thousands, and held Stalinesque trials to quash the new Green Movement opposition.
            In 2013, the regime has already witnessed signs of discontent even before the vote. On June 4, thousands reportedly turned the funeral for Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri into an anti-government demonstration in Isfahan. Taheri had been the Friday Prayer Leader in Isfahan. He had earlier criticized the regime for corruption, eventually resigning from the post. He also called the 2009 election “invalid.”
            At his funeral, supporters chanted “death to the dictator,” a reference to the supreme leader and a rallying cry from 2009. Others shouted “Free Mousavi and Karroubi,” the two reformist presidential candidates in 2009 and co-leaders of the Green Movement. They have been under house arrest for more than two years. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

What the world will learn from Iran’s election

By Robin Wright

The field of candidates may be limited, but the outside world can still learn a lot from Iran’s 2013 presidential poll. The election will provide three pivotal metrics about the Islamic republic now that the Ahmadinejad era is ending.

      First, the (real) turnout at the polls will indicate how many Iranians still have an interest in the world’s only modern theocracy. The government is quite obsessed with the number of people who vote to prove it still has a public mandate. Voting has become almost an existential issue for the ruling clerics.
      “A vote for any of these eight candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic and a vote of confidence in the system and our electoral process,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a public appeal on June 4. He charged that the outside world was plotting to ensure a low turnout. Leaders clearly hope at least 60 percent of the estimated 50 million voters will turn out.
            Second, reaction to the results will signal whether the public deems the election process itself legitimate. It’s no small issue. Many Iranians believed the 2009 presidential poll was fraught with fraud—and that Ahmadinejad was not really reelected. The reaction sparked the greatest challenge to the Iranian regime since the 1979 revolution. It gave birth to a new opposition movement. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

The Supreme Leader’s Revenge

Alireza Nader

Iranian politics are personal. Indeed, the theocrats are decidedly earthly in their rivalries. But the 2013 election is particularly telling. It may be settling a score dating back a quarter century between the revolution’s two most enduring politicos—Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

      The two men have competed for power and the right to define the revolution since the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. Rafsanjani originally had the upper hand in two sweeping changes. He oversaw constitutional changes that created an executive president, which he then ran for and won. And, in Tehran’s worst-kept secret, he orchestrated Khamenei’s selection as the new supreme leader, reportedly because Khamenei was a middle-ranking cleric and dour figure who could not rival Rafsanjani’s political base or charismatic wiles. Khamenei actually owes his power and position to Rafsanjani, the man known in Iran as the “shark.”
      But since 1989, Rafsanjani’s master plan has gradually unraveled. In 2013, Khamenei has now managed not only to emerge from Khomeini’s shadow. He has also sidelined most of his old rivals, including the crafty Rafsanjani. On May 21, Rafsanjani was disqualified from running for the presidency—even though the 12-man Guardian Council had qualified him to run in three earlier elections. He had been elected twice. Rafsanjani is 78. Winning elected political office is likely to be increasingly difficult. Hardliners in parliament even considered legislation this year that would bar any candidate over the age of 75. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Small Media’s Election Monitoring Series

This is the first report in Small Media’s Election Monitoring series. Our research and design teams are working with research specialist Ali Honari to analyse and interpret data collected on Twitter, Facebook and other sources regarding the 2013 Iranian presidential elections.

In this baseline report we look at Tweet frequency, key words, and we introduce you to the template and layout of the reports.

In our upcoming reports we will break down the data and look at sentiment, hot topics, candidate controversies, and social media spats. The story of this image is clearly Rafsanjani’s last minute application for candidacy, and his subsequent disqualification.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be looking at each of the candidates in more depth, now that we know who they are!

Visualisation of Social Media Data about Iran's 2013 Presidential Elections

 

The Ayatollah’s Game Plan

How to Prevent Another Green Movement

A painter rests in front of a huge portrait of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a wall near a university, 2012. (Morteza Nikoubazl / Courtesy Iran)

In normal presidential elections, it is only the candidates and their platforms that matter. Not so in Iran. There, the key player in the upcoming presidential elections is the septuagenarian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is constitutionally barred from running for the office. He recognizes that the election result will have a profound impact on his own rule and on the stability of the Islamic Republic. So behind the scenes, he has been doing everything in his power to make sure that the election serves his interests. But the eleventh-hour declarations of candidacy by Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s president between 1989 and 1997, and by Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and close confidant, have made his task more difficult.

The first part of Khamenei’s four-pronged strategy is to conduct an orderly election. The nightmare scenario for Khamenei is a repeat of the June 2009 presidential election, in which allegations that Ahmadinejad had stolen victory from his challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, led to massive demonstrations and the birth of the popular reformist Green Movement.

Khamenei could have stayed above the fray, as elites expected him to do. Instead, he lost credibility as a neutral arbiter when he sided with Ahmadinejad, rejected all allegations of fraud, and blamed Ahmadinejad’s opponents for inciting violence. His offer of public support for the president opened a fissure among the elites that has never quite healed. It also preceded a massive crackdown on activists who were castigated as American stooges and arrested. Even more, the disputed election alienated millions who felt truly robbed of their voices.

Given that history, Khamenei has made a concerted effort this time around to discredit potential protesters before they take to the streets. The Revolutionary Guards and security forces have launched a propaganda campaign to link any interruption on election day or after to the United States and its purported plans to destabilize the regime. For example, Yadollah Javani, the head of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Guards, has warned that the slogan “free and fair election” is a U.S. code word for sedition. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

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