Iran’s Sham Elections

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Okay, call me an apologist, but I don’t think you can fairly blame George Bush for the recent election results in Iran. I’ll be the first to say that our Iran policy—what policy?—is completely screwed up, but let’s not lose sight of the main problem hovering around the elections: the fix was in. Even if Hooman Madj is right and “large-scale fraud is unlikely to have occurred”—despite reports of baseej and militiamen intimidating voters—there’s still the fact that all of the candidates had to be pre-approved by an unelected council of clerics. There’s still the fact that the presidency is largely a useless role, without real power in the country, and that it didn’t really matter whether a reformer like Mustafa Moin won; the status quo would’ve still plopped down, plump and happy, right where it was. I don’t know if Bush was wise to denounce Iran’s sham democracy right before a bunch of sham elections, but on the merits, what he said was accurate; it does no-one any good to pretend otherwise.

Anyway, it seems like the reformists are going to back Hashemi Rafsanjani in the runoff election, if only because his hard-liner opponent, former Tehran mayor Majmood Ahmadinejad, would allow the radical clerics in Iran to strengthen their grip on the country. But Rafsanjani certainly has no intention of liberalizing the country, or ushering in a new era of freedom and happiness. (Indeed, the danger is that if Rafsanjani wins with reformist support, the conservatives can claim newfound “legitimacy” and argue against those who would claim, quite rightly, that Iran is undemocratic.) On the bright side, analyst Sanam Vakil has argued that Rafsanjani will at least buck the conservative line and try for a rapprochement with the United States. That’s better than nothing, provided, of course, that the United States would actually be willing to talk. The other interesting question is whether student groups and other reformists will take to the streets if Ahmadinejad wins. Not to mention: What will the United States do if Ahmadinejad wins? Break off all negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and hurtle down the path towards regime change?

UPDATE: Hossein Derakhshan has a report on the dire mood in Iran among reformers, especially over the prospect of an Ahmadinejad victory. Also: “One good thing about an Ahmadinejad term could be that it would end the apathy among the youth born after the Iran-Iraq war.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate