Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another Rigged Election in Iran

Dale McFeatters, Nashua Daily Telegraph:
In 1997, Iran’s ruling clerics decided to open up the presidential-election process to allow in a few more carefully screened candidates. But, wouldn’t you know it, the cussed voters elected the wrong one, the reform-minded Mohammed Khatami.

Khatami, who was re-elected, proved ineffectual even when he wasn’t being thwarted by the ruling inner circle around supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But the hard-line clerics weren’t about to make that mistake again. Repeating a tactic that made last year’s parliamentary elections a joke, the Guardian Council that vets all political candidates took a look at the 1,014 would-be presidential contenders in the June 17 vote and approved just six, all of them reliable mainstays and former high officials of the hard-line regime. READ MORE

Among those eliminated: all 89 women candidates. This was too much even for Khamenei, who ordered the council to put at least some reformist candidates on the ballot. The council grudgingly restored two – both men, one a current vice president, the other a former minister of education.

The result of the Council’s handiwork is that in a nation two-thirds of whose people are under 30 the front-running presidential candidate is 70-year-old Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and a pivotal figure in the 1979 Islamic revolution. . . .

Disaffected Iranians will respond with the only weapon they have – apathy. They turned out in low numbers for the parliamentary elections and likely will turn out in even lower numbers for the presidential election. In its own way, it is a referendum on the clerical regime.

Dale McFeatters is a syndicated writer.