Rigged election blocks Irans path to reform

News Analysis

Iran’s ultraconservative clerical establishment has denied millions of voters the chance to continue on the path of reform by rigging the results of the June 17 presidential election.

While all opinion polls showed solid support for Mostafa Moin, the pro-reform candidate supported by the country’s main democratic and progressive forces, the regime’s vote tally placed him in fifth place with only 13.8 percent of the vote.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the candidate favored by the U.S. and the European Union countries, won the top spot with 21 percent. But the most astonishing result was the sudden elevation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran’s ultraconservative mayor, to second place with 19 percent.

Ahmadinejad, 49, who was almost invisible during the month long campaign, has risen in the ranks of “Revolutionary Guards Corps,” the armed forces loyal to the clerical establishment. A shadowy figure, he has been implicated in attempts to assassinate prominent leaders of the progressive opposition, and once remarked that democracy is alien to Islam and Iran.

Since the late 1980s, the Guards Corps has consolidated its position in the country’s economic and political infrastructure, and in the last two years has attempted to win complete control of the government and parliament.

Iranian democrats are furious about the regime’s blatant attempt to rob the nation of the opportunity to continue the path of reform and put an end to the profound social and political crisis that has plagued Iran since the 1980s. They have called for an organized campaign against the regime’s vote-rigging and falsified election results.

Neither one of the candidates in the runoff election has any credibility among the progressive opposition. Ahmadinejad is allied to the fascistic forces organized around the “Supreme Religious Leader.” Rafsanjani, 70, is well known for his corrupt practices during the period since the 1979 revolution, including his role in the infamous “Iran-Contra Affair” of the mid-1980s. He is also remembered for his eight ruinous years as president (1989-97). During that time he brought the country to its knees by carrying out an “Economic Adjustment Program” prescribed by the International Monetary Fund.

Reacting to the attempts to steal the election, Moin, 54, a former minister of higher education, warned against the rise of “militaristic and fascistic” tendencies within the regime and said that what happened “is a threat to the people’s vote and free elections.”

Ebrahim Yazdi, leader of the influential Freedom Movement, questioned how Ahmadinejad, “who did not run an effective election campaign and according to all opinion polls and the exit polls was in the lowest position, could suddenly rise and assume the highest position during the counting.”

In a June 19 statement, the Tudeh Party of Iran said, “The difficult and heroic struggle of millions of Iranians to carry out their demand for the continuation of the reform process and protest against the ruling dictatorial regime has entered a new phase in the face of organized and widespread attempts and open interference by the armed forces of the regime as well as massive vote rigging in most cities.”

Referring to the widespread popular support for Moin’s pro-reform candidacy, Tudeh said, “Fearing the success of the candidate of the Front for Democracy and Human Rights, the ruling reactionary forces employed everything in their power to prevent the realization of the popular verdict.”

The party has called for a mass campaign against the regime’s attempt to steal the election, with the aim of forcing the regime to “nullify the result of the elections.” It said that, in view of the massive vote rigging, “the second round of the election is illegal.”

The statement by Iran’s best-known and oldest political party called for “progressive forces in Iran and internationally to raise their voices of protest against the unpatriotic, antidemocratic and antipopular actions of the regime.” It continued, “We should not allow these falsified election results to undermine the clear wish of millions of Iranian people for realization of democracy, freedom and social justice.”

Navid Shomali is a correspondent from the Tudeh Party of Iran.