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Iranian Election

6.25.2005

The victory for the Tehran Mayor Ahmadinejad over the ex-president Rafsanjani, allowed many media outlets to paint this fight in particularly black and white views. On the one hand we had a "reformer", on the other we had a religious "conservative" or depending on your outlet, a "hard-liner". As with most cases of black and white media reportage, it seems likely that the broader mass media missed the point completely. The assumption that one can simply divide candidates in an Iranian election according to their wiews and attitudes toward the west is disingenuous.
The Iranian election, like all others is a myriad of narratives occuring in the local body politic at any given time. We can see here, that the platform adopted by Ahmadinejad was one of liberator of the poor. Such revolutionary zeal is what erupted in Iran all those years ago, instead of tarring him as some religious fanatic, which he may well be, there is further onus to explore why religious fanaticism marries so well with the poor in Iran and the middle east.
This election was not won on theoretical debate over division of powers and balances nor the interference of the Guardian Council in election conduct.
This was an election of rich and poor, employed and unemployed. The west may have fitted that narrative in terms of talk about oil and jobs but it certainly wasnt through genreal foreign policy. The middle east is like most other electorates, elections tend not to be won on foreign policy, although talking down america is a bonus, it is not the vital cog in an election victory.
While much of the reaction will be the effect on current nuclear negotiation with the IAEA and others, talk could also center on the reason Iran chose to embrace more religious revolutionary fervour. How come when iranians went to the polls, they saw the Imams and religious leaders as more qualified to provide jobs and a living standard?
Perhaps most worrisome of all is why so few turned out. The apathy toward democracy is not confined solely to the West it seems. How can Iranians be motivated to vote? Lower turnout lowers the threshold for extremism to gain power. In iran this is especially dangerous.
So what do we do? Wait and see? Hope for another colour coded revolution? Intervene? This election is about Iranian issues and the voters were not voting with us in mind. Reportage should represent that fact and give insight into the socio-economic climate that yielded this result. As we can see here at IranScan, this was an iranian result on local iranian issues. most of my coverage has revolved around the democratic theory, institutional debate and foreign affairs, issues least likely to decide electoral outcome.
It is the aftermath that gives us insight into the need for 2-Dimensional labelling on the international stage.
RR

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