Iranian Elections this week

I really hope Ahmadinejad is not re-elected, and it looks like Mir Hossein Moussavi might be the best option? I guess it’s a tiny step forward if woman aren’t required to cover their hair (by law).

Ahmadinejad is pretty nutty though, bad enough I wonder if he’d be able to influence/taint the election results (beyond blocking facebook).

While it’s always tempting to reduce things to “bad guy vs good guy”, it’s not as simple as the US media tends to make things out. Ahmadinejad is a populist who makes a career out of fighting the establishment. Said establishment figures attack Ahmadienjad for being an extremist, but only because it’s a weakness for him, not out of any sudden zeal for Western mores.

Rather then go into detail here, just check out this recap:

I’m going with Atrios’ opinion:

Does It Matter?

The neocons and our media will make whoever wins the Iranian elections the next Hitler of the Week regardless.

I posted this on Planetcrap earlier:

In other news, Ahmedinejad’s election postersfeature a now-scrapped Irish Rail train for some inexplicable reason. Just lends credence to my theory that Ahmedinejad and Roy Keane are the same person.

Moussavi is still the better option. Ahmadinejad was very much about hate and threats - and nobody needs to propagate that kind of crap. Moussavi might not be what we think of as a “good guy”, but it’s better than the status quo.

I’m just surprised there’s been no posts on the huge Hezbollah loss in Lebanon.

I didn’t see much to comment on.

The ruling March 14 Coalition, heirs to the Cedar Revolution, have somewhat unexpectedly carried the day in Lebanon. This is being reported as a defeat for Hezbollah, since Hezbollah was (and is) the main party in the opposition. But Hezbollah’s actual level of electoral support is unchanged. Instead, as I said the other day, the key player was Michael Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement. Aoun, a Christian, had aligned himself with the Hezbollah-led coalition. But he ultimately wasn’t able to carry enough of the Christian vote to put the opposition in power.

Since the March 14 Coalition is pro-Western in its orientation, this counts as a win for US foreign policy. At the same time, it’s not actually clear to me how anyone’s life in the United States is actually impacted by Lebanese electoral politics and my general sense is that it’s not wise to get too invested in these kind of proxy struggles. The fundamental issue of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese society will, one suspects, remain unresolved as Hezbollah has no intention of surrendering its weapons and it seems it will still be the case that the Lebanese government isn’t going to be willing or able to forcibly disarm it.

In short: foreign elections are rarely about the US.

Isn’t Ahmadinejad marketing himself more than he conducts himself as a populist? Didn’t he get elected largely due to promises of liberalization?

Not as far as I’m aware. Last election most of the opposition, that are to a certain extent pro-liberalization, boycotted the election giving him an easy win.

Well, my Iranian friends are excited to vote for Moussavi. Of course, NYU students probably = selection bias.

His liberalization was the fact he wears that brown suit everywhere and his haircut. That was his biggest stick against “the establishment”. He did promise much more oil proceeds going to the poor which apparently hasn’t really happened, and then the rest of his platform was aggressively anti-Israel, Anti-US, crazy right-wing religious fundamentalism which at the time was popular. Now that we don’t have an ass-hole leading our country, the anti-US vote isn’t quite the vote getter it was last elections.

It’s all irrelevant anyway since the Iranian president doesn’t really have much power. Iran’s government is dominated by the Supreme Leader, who is the Ayatollah. The Supreme Leader actually controls the most important and powerful elements of the country, such as the military forces, appoints judges, and so on. He also leads the Guardian Council, which decides what the legislature considers and who can even run for president.

The president of Iran is more like a “city manager” but on a national level then an actual policy maker.

What does matter, though, is the public face of Iran. I mean, had the President not indulged in a veritable orgy of bizarre and offensive commentary throughout his term, most of the issues that bedevil Iran’s relationship with the USA at least could have been handled a lot more productively, even if the basic elements of the disputes didn’t change much. It’s much easier to maintain a stonewalling, hard-line response when the other guy is a whack job, and much harder to avoid actual diplomacy if he’s at least talking reasonably.

Yea I don’t understand people trying to downplay this as nothing. Yes, the Ayatollah has more technical power, BUT as thewombat said the President is the face of the country. It’s the expression of the people. For the past 4 years, they’ve had a dickhead as the figurehead, and hopefully after today, they’ll have someone much better.

And the President does have a lot of power in regards to the economy and can influence the Ayatollah. Even allowing woman to show their hair (without needing special exemptions) is a nice step forward for such a rigid Islamic state like Iran. I hope that would be the start to really opening up woman’s rights there.

Mousavi claims victory. A bit later, state media announces Ahmadinejad is taking 69% with 20% reporting. Some speculation that this is rural districts that are staunchly conservative. Presumably, the reformist should run better in Tehran.

All of that said, cries of fraud are already ramping up. From the reaction of the few Mousavi supporters I’ve read, there’s the potential for some serious instability. Coupled with the Revolutionary Guard’s warning from yesterday, I admit I’m worried for everyone in Iran. Here’s hoping for a legitimate result that’s respected by all parties.

These Iranian elections are compelling. They’re so compelling that both Moussavi and Ahmadinejad have declared victory with under 20% of the ballots counted.

State media declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of Iran’s election on Friday, but challenger Mirhossein Mousavi alleged irregularities and claimed victory for himself.

The head of the state election commission said Ahmadinejad was leading Mousavi by 69 percent to 28 percent with about 19 percent of ballots counted.

I was looking at the IRNA Farsi website (the English one is irredeemably down) and their top story is indeed claiming victory for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi declared victory before the polls even closed, calling himself the “definite winner”.

A Washington Post correspondent in Tehran reports on his Twitter page that Mousavi is reiterating his victory in a statement, inviting people to a victory parade tomorrow, and asking the government to accept its defeat.

EDIT: Beaten! Damn you schleprock!

Text messaging was not working in Iran on Friday, something that could hurt Moussavi, who has used technology to inform his supporters.

This sucks.

And this is exactly why the presidency isn’t that important. Guess who appoints the person who runs the media in Iran? Who do you think the Revolutionary Guard answers to? Who do you think really calls the shots?

Bob Dole.

The clerics are absolutely in control. That said, the election of a reformist who’s dedicated to dialog with the west would be a huge opportunity. Iran might be a theocracy, but isolation from the world stage is not in the best interests of their people or their elites. Not hoping for perfection, but I’m daring to root for improvement.

Or is that not ideological enough to count as an opinion?