Home Iran Events & Left A stolen election. Keyvan Soltany
A stolen election. Keyvan Soltany Print E-mail


In one of its first acts after usurping the will of the Iranian people, the government of Mahmud Ahmedinejad has banned a rally by the supporters of Mir Hussain Mousavi, the man from whom they stole it.  If there was any doubt about the sham nature of the Iranian elections, this first act by the Islamic Republic should remove it.

Despite the ban, people are pouring on to the streets and are protesting what can best be described as a political highway robbery of epic proportions. Results leaked by the staff at the Ministry of Interior suggest that not only did Mousavi win the first round of the elections, the incumbent Ahmedinejad came in third, behind second=place Karoubi.

The question then remains, why does the Islamic Republic go through this charade every four years?

The fact is the men who control the Islamic Republic state structure desperately need to validate the legitimacy of the regime and the quasi-monarchy system of Velayat e Fagih, the unelected Supreme Leader.

For this to happen, they stage manage the entire exercise so as to trigger a huge participation of people in a controlled election, wherein all the candidates, would urge their supporters to come out and take part in the election. The state then equates this huge participation as an expression of its popularity and legitimacy.

However, the fact is embedded in a hard-core reality that the people of Iran do not enjoy the equality, egalitarian society, human rights that they deserve.

In the last elections, all Ayatollahs with jurisprudence credentials and even lesser ones were given free access to public media to ask people for a "major participation.”  This included Ayatollah Montazari, the opposition cleric who has been in and out of house arrest, but usually censored.

While on the one hand the state machinery whipped up a frenzy associated with a pro-wrestling match, on the other hand it was busy ensuring most candidates for the presidency were weeded out from the contest

Out of above 2,000 candidates who aspired to be president, , only four were declared qualified by the "Shoray Negahban" - the so-called Council of Guardians of the Constitution.

The outcasts rejected and barred from running included women, religious minorities, leftist, and some liberal-nationalists.  These are the people who have been excluded from every aspect of Iranian life.  The Left in Iran and some liberals have boycotted all elections under the Islamic regime as they  maintain such an election does not have the necessary pre-conditions of a fair and democratic process.
Among the three candidates permitted to challenge the incumbent Ahmedinejad was Mir Hussain Mousavi , who was Iran's Prime Minister from 1981 to 1988, when he had the tacit support of Ayatollah Khomeini himself.  Much has been written about Mousavi, but little about the other contenders.

The other major candidate was Mehid Karoubi who "narrowly" lost the election in 2005, but claims that he actually won the election, securing more than 50% required to win the election.  He claims the 2005 election was rigged in the first round, rendering him as the third candidate, and Ahmedinejad as the 2nd, enabling him to face Rafsanjani in the second round.

However, after the 2005 election Mehid Karoubi started a political party and by 2009 had a strong election manifesto, emphasizing a complete observance of human rights.  He defended the equal status to women,  and proposed that religious minorities be equal citizens in Iranian society.

Karoubi even went to the extent of demanding the Baha’i minority in Iran be considered "equal citizens and that they should be free from harassment for their religious beliefs.”

Karoubi’s manifesto of equality also encompassed the Dervishes, Sufis, Sunnis, and others who have been targeted by both the judiciary and state sponsored vigilante groups.  These commitments, made him the candidate of choice among some groups, including the women’s movement, known as "The One Million Signatures Campaign,” who aspire to quash all the laws and by-laws that deter and hamper the sexual equality in present day Iran.  Many artists, known authors, intellectuals- some of them left-leaning- some media and sports personalities joined his campaign.

Karoubi also went to the extent of paying a visit to the household of Mansour Osanlou, the Iranian trade union leader who has been jailed for two years now.  He promised not only his release, but even promised  to support the workers’ rights.  This gesture earned him the support of the imprisoned leader of Vahed Syndicate of Workers, even though the Syndicate itself had decided not to endorse any candidate.  Moreover, Karoubi openly wowed to change the articles of constitution and promised to appoint a woman minister in his future cabinet.

Being the underdog in the so-called Reformist camp, when Karoubi started getting such popular endorsements, it compelled Mousavi to also take stands on issues regarding human rights, citizenship rights, and women’s rights.  Not wanting to fall behind his reformist competitor, Mousavi included the women’s rights in his agenda and shifted from generalities to specifics.

For the first time in an Iranian election, apart from patriotic zeal and religious passions, candidates aired, detailed manifestos addressing some of the long-standing demands and aspirations of the people.  Mousavi also promised to change the constitution.  He also has involved his artist, intellectual wife in the campaign, and spoke of women's ability to assume any position of governance.

So far in Iran, the constitution has been interpreted to suggest that only men can reach the highest office.  This restriction is based on the phrase “Rajol-e-Siasi,” which in Arabic means “Man of Politics,” thus barring women.

Both Mousavi and Karoubi say this phrase should be read in its Persian context, not Arabic and  "Rajol e Siasi" should mean “A Learned Politician” and not its literal Arabic meaning.

Of course, Karoubi and Mouasvi’s interpretation does not come out of thin air.  It came after the demands of the street.  Karoubi contested the 2005 elections and did not speak of such an understanding, nor I think a language course of the basis Arabic 101 would have taught him in this period.  As a theologian, he received all his religious education in Arabic, it is hard to assume that he did not know this implication then.

Interestingly, the ethnic backgrounds of the candidates in Iran, at least partially is representative of the complexity of the mosaic of Iran.  Mousavi being an Azeri, Karoubi, hailing from Lorestan, and Rezaei a candidate from Bakhtiaris from  Masjed Solaiman, in the oil rich Province of Khuzestan.

Leaving Ahmedinejad hailing from Garmsaar city in the Persian Heartland.  These contrasts also made all candidates cater to the specific demands of different nationalities as wished to win their supports.

 The fact that, Karoubi and then Mousavi spoke of the equality before law and promised fair treatment to the sub-nationalities, has projected a scope of social demands that is beyond the capacity of each candidate, and the entire regime.

The question to ponder is why the “supreme Leader” opted to support Ahmedinejad and not the other candidates.A glimpse at the real results leaked out by the employees of the Ministry of Interior that conducted the election, might shed some light:

Eligible voters: 49,322,412

Total votes cast: 42,026,078


1. Mir Hussein Mousavi: 19,075,623

2. Mehdi Karoubi: 13,387,104

3. Mahmud Ahmedinejad:   5,698,417

4. Mohsen Rezaei Mir Ghaed:   3,745,218

Imagine Ayatollah Khamenie and his advisors reading these results.  The figures show that the second round essentially belongs to one of the reformists and that Ahmedinejad comes in third.They remember the uneasy eight years as Supreme Leader he had to endure during the presidency of Khatami.  Dealing with students’ uprising and blossoming  of a free media, making it hard to gag the press.

Therefore, Ayatollah Khamenie decided to nip the possibility of encounters with these movements in the bud by imposing Ahmedinejad as the winner.
Even within a controlled election, which they tried to stage manage, albeit unsuccessfully, Ayatollah Khamenie had to rig the election results.

Now, the people who have voted, feel cheated, specially the youth and women.  They are disenchanted.  They thought, their votes would be counted.  They thought this time there was a time for change. Perhaps they did not realize that changing one or a few articles of the constitution would not suffice.  Maybe there was a need to overhaul this draconian law in its entirety.

They did not foresee the fact a fundamental change was needed in Iran is essential.  A fundamental change is often called a Revolution.  Revolutions are unfortunately bloody and trigger huge upheavals in nature.They are bloody, not due to the nature of the demands, or just because bloodletting is on the agenda of the revolutionaries.  It is because those in power and their cliques do not give up the power so easily.

His supporters may not wish to question his credentials, but even during Mousavi’s tenure as a Prime Minister, more than 70,000 political prisoners were executed.  Some  were minors and most summarily executed.  Some of the dead were not even identified, let alone receiving a fair trial.  Some were arrested in the aftermath of a political rally or were found with a book of Che Guevara in his/her possession.

The same can be said about bloodstained credentials of other ‘reformist’ candidates.  The fact is that the changes in the attitude of candidates is imposed by the constituents movements who joined them in their quest for change.

However, we see a generation, quite modern that wants to share the world as it sees it, but is denied its fruits.  This generation is determined that it can achieve what is denied to him and what she think it is hers to keep.  The next few days could be decisive, and time will tell whether the subjective factors of change evolve to eradicate its illusions and embark on a path for real change or not.


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