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High turnout in Iran elections could end 'paranoia' of leaders

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Clarity about the results of the March 2 election has been in short supply; today journalists in Tehran who went to a Minister of Interior press conference to hear final results announced left empty-handed.

Hard-line loyalists of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are nevertheless reported by Iranian media to have gained 75 percent of the vote for the 290 seats in Iran's soaring, modern parliament building. 

When full results do emerge from a vote in which non-conservative opponents were banned, jailed, or under house arrest, the answers to two questions especially will shape Iran’s future political balance:

1) With this vote, has Iran's Islamic regime regained some of the popular legitimacy lost during the 2009 elections? In that vote, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reinstated for a second term with "divine" authority – and a bloody crackdown that crushed protests against fraud by millions of Iranians who took to the streets.

2) How will this vote affect the fortunes of Mr. Ahmadinejad: Will he be a lame duck after first losing his challenge last year to the authority of Ayatollah Khamenei, and now face an even more hostile parliament?

Farhi, who has analyzed in detail many Iranian elections, says that the lack of a dominant force among election winners this time around is likely to boost Mr. Khamenei.

"I do see an increased segmentation – increased factionalization – within parliament, which means that no political point of view, among the hard-liners and pragmatists and traditionalists, have really done well,” says Farhi. This will yield "increased power on the part of Khamenei because there is going to be more fighting in parliament, and everyone is going to end up going to Khamenei to come and fix things."

Ahmadinejad's sister lost her bid for election

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