Daily Telegraph: Campaigning ends today in Iran for a general election in which the victory of the conservatives is assured. The inevitability of the result follows the disqualification by the clerically dominated Council of Guardians of more than 800 of the 909 reformist candidates. The Daily Telegraph
Campaigning ends today in Iran for a general election in which the victory of the conservatives is assured. The inevitability of the result follows the disqualification by the clerically dominated Council of Guardians of more than 800 of the 909 reformist candidates. Such rigging is likely to lead to low voter participation; in similar circumstances, in 2004, the figure was 51 per cent, substantially less than the level recorded four years earlier.
Attempting to get the vote out and to justify the wholesale elimination of candidates not to their liking, Iran’s leaders have raised the spectre of Western interference in domestic affairs. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, warned yesterday of candidates who, if elected, “would act as the enemies want”.
Meanwhile, two prominent reformists have come under conservative fire, one for granting an interview to an American-funded Farsi TV channel, the other for meeting the German ambassador. Concerned about the legitimacy of tomorrow’s poll, the authorities have banged the chauvinist drum.
Actually, the outcome could be much more interesting than the conservatives’ assured numerical superiority would suggest.
This is because conservatives themselves are divided between supporters and opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the rabble-rousing president who has sought confrontation with the West while woefully neglecting the economy.
If his opponents come out on top, Mr Ahmadinejad’s hopes of standing for a second term in 2009 could be dashed.
A generation after the Islamic Revolution, there is a glaring mismatch between the aspirations of the general public, two thirds of whom are under 30, and the conservative agenda. Disillusionment has bred apathy; the Islamic republic is not about to succumb to reformist revolt.
But the clerics’ continuing refusal to allow properly representative government is storing up trouble. Iran may still be one of the most democratic Middle Eastern countries, but that is scant praise in a region where autocratic rule is the norm.