OpinionIran in the World PressTop Ten Facts about Iran's June 17 Presidential Election

Top Ten Facts about Iran’s June 17 Presidential Election

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U.S. Alliance for Democratic Iran: Iran will hold a presidential election on Friday, June 17.
There are some fundamental facts about the nature and purpose of elections held under theocratic regime in Iran. They help to better understand the current political scene there.
These are the top ten facts about the June 17 election, compiled by the US Alliance for Democratic Iran, for your information. U.S. Alliance for Democratic Iran

Iran will hold a presidential election on Friday, June 17. There are some fundamental facts about the nature and purpose of elections held under theocratic regime in Iran. They help to better understand the current political scene there. These are the top ten facts about the June 17 election, compiled by the US Alliance for Democratic Iran, for your information.

1- Election under a theocratic rule is a farce

Holding free elections, a display of popular sovereignty in true democracies, are in absolute and substantive contradiction with Iran’s theocratic system of governance which is based on the clerical sovereignty.

2- Supreme Leader, not the President, holds real power

According to Iran’s Constitution, the real power is in the hands of the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While Constitution assigns many responsibilities to the president, it does not grant him any power to implement them.

Article Four of Iran’s Constitution stipulates that: “All laws and regulations.. shall be based on Islamic principles.” The interpretation of what is or is not an “Islamic principle” falls within the authority of the Supreme Leader and his hand picked Guardian Council, the 12-member body tasked with ensuring laws passed are based on “Islamic principles.”

3- Elections are Held to create pretence of democracy

As far as the clerical establishment is concerned, the June 17 presidential election is not about political substance of the agendas each candidate has offered but about voter turnout,. Elections are held to give an appearance of democracy to a system of governance which otherwise is a theocracy founded on the doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih, the absolute clerical rule. Ensuring the political stability of the regime is the common denominator of candidates of different stripes who all have called for high turnout.

The clerical regime’s insistence on high participation of people does not stem from its genuine adherence to democratic practices and respect for the popular will. Its primary purpose is to create pretence of popular legitimacy. To this end, the regime seeks to ensure a high turn out.

4- Iran’s ruling regime is in dire need of proving its legitimacy

The June 17 election comes at the time when the clerical regime needs a show of popular support to ensure its claim to legitimacy, particularly in light of growing popular unrest in Tehran and other cities and continued international pressure to dismantle its nuclear program. On international level, a low turnout would jumpstart the undoing of Iran’s aggressive foreign policy, which relies on diplomatic intimidation through terrorism threats, auctioneering Iran’s wealth through lucrative trade deals in exchange for diplomatic incentives, and projection of strong popular support for its policies at home.

5- Active opposition, not apathy, is driving force behind voters’ non-participation

The will of majority of Iranians to turn away from this election is not due to apathy. In Iran, non- participation in national elections is tantamount to not getting ID cards stamps required for getting jobs, acceptance to universities, and getting passports. Therefore, considering the price each individual would have to pay, the decision to boycott the election, is a manifestation of active opposition against the regime. An open call for election boycott in Iran is even considered as an act against state’s national security.

6- Call them reformist, pragmatist, conservative; all eight candidates are loyal to Supreme Leader

All candidates approved by the Guardian Council have proven credentials in upholding the theocratic system and unquestionable loyalty to the Supreme Leader, otherwise they would have not been confirmed. As such, their campaign rhetoric amounts to mere image making gimmicks to bring voters to the polls. Implementation of any substantial democratic change in Iran must begin with rejecting the office of Supreme Leader. None of the candidates has the will or the power to do so.

7- Voter fraud would be at its highest this election

Expect the Iranian regime to pull every kind of electoral fraud out of its bag of tricks. From bussing people around to different polling stations, guiding reports to those polling stations already packed and with huge lines of regime’s loyalists, to extending voting hours several times because of voters turnout, the clerical regime would work to ensure a show of legitimacy.

8- A voter turnout of less than 50% would be a political blow to the clerical regime

The clerical regime seeks at least a 51%. Many poles taken opposition groups indicate a huge rejection of elections. This does not however mean that the officials and state-run news agencies would not release outlandishly inflated figures. Analysts agree the official number would probably be more than 51% participation, somewhere between 55-65%. Any official number below 50% indicates a rejection of the regime.

9- Image reinvention fails to disguise candidates’ past record

All candidates – the willing actors in this electoral charade – are hard at work to reinvent themselves as youth-loving, women-respecting individuals who would improve Iran’s image and economy if they become president. Among them is the front runner, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former two-term president from 1989-1997. Rafsanjani is one of the culprits of the1988 massacre of political prisoners. And under his presidency assassination of dissidents at home and abroad, terrorist attacks against foreigners, and Iran’s nuclear weapons program became state policy.

On May 5, 1989, Rafsanjani, then Iran’s powerful Parliament Speaker and acting Commander-in-Chief, called on Palestinians to kill Americans and other Westerners. He said, “If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine they kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans, or Britons or Frenchmen,” the Israelis “would not continue these wrongs.” He continued, “It is not difficult to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to kill [Israelis”>. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen”> everywhere in the world.”

10- Iran’s ruling regime is reform-proof and there is no “Ayatollah Gorbachev”

Regardless of who is declared the winner after the June 17 elections, Iran is not going to be ushered on its path to any democratic change. As eight years of Mohammad Khatami’s failed presidency confirmed, the ruling theocracy cannot be reformed from within. Democratic change to free Iran from tyranny, weapons of mass destruction, sponsorship of terrorism, and meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq, can only be accomplished when the theocratic regime is replaced by a democratic, secular government.

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