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View Diary: UK NGO Experts Expose Ahmadinejad Vote Rigging (142 comments)

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    neroden, FishOutofWater

    by Reza Fiyouzat

    More than a hundred years ago now, Iranians were as loudly as now present in the streets demanding constitutional governance, freedom from random harassment by the state and a legitimate representational system.  

    In 1906, as a result of that national surge, demanding true legitimacy from the rulers, Iran established the first parliament on the Asian continent, and forced an absolutist monarchy into accepting a constitutional rule by a parliament chosen by the people.  That parliamentary system, by 1921, had been overthrown by Reza Shah, and an absolutist dictatorship was reestablished, which in turn was overturned by the people by the close of 1940's, and by 1951 the people had regained their relative sovereignty. In 1953, that too was overthrown by a coup carried out by CIA against our popularly elected prime minister, Dr. Mossadegh, and the second phase of the Palhavi dictatorship ensued, which lasted until 1978.  

    Ever since the theft of that revolution and the establishment of theocracy in 1979, we have witnessed repeated occurrences of mass uprisings in Iran. The last major wave was in 1999, led by university students, and swiftly crushed by the government (at the time headed by a 'reformist', Khatami).  

    So, throughout the twentieth century, as a nation we did not stop grappling with the hugely complex social problem of legitimacy of the state, as different dictatorships arose and established themselves as newer, more effective machineries of oppression, and as we struggled against them. That fight continues today.  

    When reality happens in equally painful and delightful leaps, such as we are witnessing now, and as it speeds right past rigid minds standing by with gaping mouths, mouthing knee-jerk, reflexive thoughts not considered at all, we salute reality!  

    And hope we can keep up.    

    *  *  *

    One left-seeming analysis being presented about the election results in Iran is the 'class analysis', epitomized by a few articles that have appeared in recent days (no names necessary, since that makes things personal, and I'm trying to keep it political here). I even heard the 'class analysis' (sic.) used on BBC! BBC's approach was actually not too different from those presented by some on the U.S. left.  

    Real class analysis looks for and explains historical and materialist trends in a society ('materialist' meaning here, containing real-social substance); all else is superficial journalism.

    Not taking into account Iran's complex social history at all, and amazingly enough not even considering the very context of a theocratic setup as relevant, superficial journalism's entire argument is constructed on a presupposition never examined: that Iran is just another regular country, with a generally democratic-looking system, with its own peculiar way of holding elections, which we must respect, run as best as they can (of course, they have problems, but who doesn't?); but, all in all, there's regular opportunity for people to express their choices, just like in the U.S. (and God know they have deep problems of their own with democracy). So, no matter how disappointed the losers in the Iranian elections, they simply 'should bite the bullet', and move on.  

    Scores of people have indeed taken bullets.  

    Why the need for attacking peaceful demonstrations, if the elections were truly won cleanly? Why the need to arrest and detain hundreds of people, of political leaders and intellectuals of the reformist camp? Why the need to disrupt all communications? But, I am digressing.  

    Along with the  'bite the bullet' attitude, some analysis must be presented, of course, since we are writing a political piece. So, let's see what it is. It is claimed that, first of all, Ahmadinejad got exactly the same proportion of votes as he did last time, in 2005, when he beat Hashemi Rafsanjani. But, since that's the only historical reference looked up by lazy journalism, all the social changes that have happened between then and now lose their significance in the accounts of superficial observers..

    in the accounts of superficial observers.  

    Now, this is my last two cents on the numbers part or the elections (for those who say Ahmadinejad got the same voters' percentage in this year's elections as he did in 2005). The 2005 elections were held in two rounds. In the first round the voter turnout was about 63%, but (and this is the significant number) went down to only 48% in the second round.  

    Why? Because in the first round, a 'reformist' candidate (Karrubi) was in the running, but he got bumped off in the first round. So, people faced with the very uninspiring contest between Mr. Corruption himself (Rafsanjani) and Ahmadinejad (former Pasdar), they chose to stay home for the most part. So, Ahmadinejad's 61% in the second round back then, was from only 48% of the voters. That is NOT equal to (in fact, it's just over half) the same percentage of 85% the government says participated this year.

    There is another significant piece of knowledge in the above numbers. If you pause a little and pay attention to the difference between the elections turnout in the first and the second round in 2005 (going from 61% to 48%), you should be able to see what Iranians know for a fact: that the turnout increases ONLY when reformists run. So, the huge jump from 48% turnout to 85% can be attributed to the fact that people had come to vote Ahmadinejad out of office! The fact that millions of people have taken to the streets across the country proves it.  

    Another crucial thing missed here is that back then too there were loud claims of vote rigging against Ahmadinejad, who was greatly helped by the Revolutionary Guards' and the Basijs' disciplined mobilization for vote getting. Those complaints died out eventually. But, from right after the 2005 elections, it became clear to Iran observers that major political maneuvering had begun between, on the one hand, the elite siding with the powerful Hashemi Rafsanjani and, on the other, those siding with the conservatives aligned with Khamenei, whose front man is Ahmadinejad. In this year's elections, Hashemi Rafsanjani lent his political weight to the reformists, who (just like the Democrats in the U.S.) are the only ones with realistic, if not the best, chances of inspiring large participation in the elections.  

    It was for these very reasons that the reformist factions knew very well that major vote rigging would be tried again. If it could be done twice in the U.S., it sure as hell could be done twice in Iran. And for these very reasons, for months before the election day, the reformists had studied well the procedures in place, looking for flaws, had found plenty, and had proposed remedies aplenty, all of which had been turned down. So, going into the ring, they knew they were stepping into a fixed match...much much more

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