Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Iranian "Elections"--The Real Winner

Other Than Rouhani
The shadow of Rafsanjani (Photo Source: AL Monitor)

By: Jabbar Fazeli, MD

With more than 10 million votes counted, Mr. Rouhani, a moderate, and the default flag bearer for the reformists, appears to be wining with more than 50% of the vote. UPDATE: Mr. Rouhani won with 52.5% of the votes with over 18 million votes. The turnout was ~72% (over 36 million out of ~50 million eligible voters).

The de facto Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, had previously scolded Rafsanjani, and others, for calling for a "free election", saying that it is a "code word" in support of the "enemies" of Iran by implying that the last election wasn't "free". Here is Kayhan's headline from a couple of months ago:

On this election day the supreme leader had a different message, he called on "officials" to "pay extra attention to accurate counting of votes". As a result, instead of a few hours, the vote count is now taking a whole day to complete and announce.
The Iranian regime seems to alter its strategy with regard to "engineering the election". With the memory of the last election unrest on his mind, the supreme leader has decided that the guardian council disqualification of serious opposition contenders is engineering enough, and that actual vote rigging would be a bridge too far this time around.

With the total number of votes remaining a state secret to this moment, it's impossible to confirm the Kayhan claim that the turn out was 75% of the 50 plus millions eligible voters.
NTY reporter in Tehran
It is possible that the regime, by not announcing the total number of votes in advance of the final vote tally, is still leaving open the option of adding votes and decreasing the percentage of Rouhani win to below 50%. This would force a runoff election. While a second round between Rouhani and Ghalibaf (an IRGC choice) may still go Rouhani's way, it would extend the propaganda value for the regime for another week and give the impression of even a greater "democracy". Also, many more voters are likely to participate in a runoff given the apparent lack of irregularities in vote counting in the first round.

The Real Winners Of The 2013 Election:


The supreme leader may have decided to give the Iranians a breather, and the regime a new lease on life, by allowing the election of an opposition candidate. This is analogous to his prior decisions to allow ex-president Khatami to run and win two terms.

Despite the apparent partial boycott by reformists and the blank ballets coming in 6th ahead of the 6th candidate, the supreme leader still got his wish of giving the world and the nation the "illusion" of "democracy". I must say that, the fact that even the city of Qom voted for Rouhani should give the supreme leader pause. 

Rafsanjani Wins:

Having been disqualified despite being a founding father of the regime, Rafsanjani added the title of "aggrieved" to his many other accomplishments. He also went a long way toward rehabilitating the image of his family, in case of change of political fortunes in the future. Before this election, Rafsanjani would have been at risk of future political and judicial reprisals in case of a full blown revolution. The recent events placed him, and his family, squarely in the "opposition" camp, and made him the man of the people again.

Mr. Rafsanjani also showed off his abilities as a king maker again. He endorsed Rouhani a day before the election drawing both reformists votes and moderate conservative votes. He now has his man elected as president (if the numbers hold), just as he had his man Khamenei elected supreme leader after Khomeini's death. His enemies within the regime will now think twice before they try to marginalized him again.

The Iranian People Win, Maybe?!

Obviously many thought that "something" is better than "nothing" and went to the voting tables (Iran uses communal tables instead of private voting booths), but ultimately their future depends on how stubborn their supreme leader really is. If he follows the example of the regime founder, Khomeini, then Iran and its people have a long way to go before they see the light at the end of the tunnel. They may have to wait eight more years before the leader drinks his "poison" and give in to western demands and allow the lifting of sanctions.

If the next few months lead to nothing, then Iranians will find themselves exactly where they started. They may eventually realize that democracy is not just about elections.

In the meantime, the ironies of today may provide us with a glimpse at the real significance of this win.  As the moderate Rouhani was being allowed to become president, he proudly posted that his site is no longer blocked (by the cyber security police).


Anonymous said...

There goes Pyruz's claim that the reformist camp never exceeds 30 percent of Iran's population. These elections show that once they are relatively free, Iranians will always go for the more moderate. These elections are a huge blow to the conservatives.

B.M.A said...

WHEN did MARK claim that the reformist camp never exceeds 30 percent...?.

@-You need to try some honesty and start seeing the G.C in good LIGHT for allowing reformists and conservatives to run!.

@-THESE elections have never been a blow to any one!!ON the contrary IRANIANS are leading the way once more in showing the region how religious democracy is practiced.

Anonymous said...

Go search for Mark's older posts.

1) The G.C. refused to approve hundreds of candidates; most of them were reformists. In fact, Rohani isn't even a real reformist. There is nothing good about the G.C.
2) Religious democracy? Democracy is more than a couple of candidates on the ballot. Democracy isn't when a selective and undemocratic group of people can disqualify potential candidates. Democracy isn't when hundreds of journalists are being jailed, internet is being disrupted and political activists are being killed under the banned of 'enemy of God'. I pity you if this is your notion of democracy.

Eventually Iranians went to vote for the candidate they thought was the most moderate of all. If Iranian was truly democratic, and everyone could run freely, nobody had probably voted for Rohani.

In the end, they support him due to the lack of anything better.

Anonymous said...

Jabbar,you know that Rafsanjani is one of the founders of this regime,therefore is not immune (if still alive) from national justice.

Mark Pyruz said...

I never said the reformists NEVER exceed 30%. I said that the 30% is what they typicaly get in ekections.

I have to say, it appears they got more in this election. I couldn't be happier. I voted for Rouhani. And so far, his percentage has exceeded my expectation.

I'm actually a liberal. And I don't agree with Jabbar's rendering of Iranian politics. With a voter turnout approaching 80%, obviously Iranians inside Iran don't agree with such, either.

Again, I'm quite happy with the result, so far.

The real losers in this election? Folks with Jabbar's attitude toward their former homeland.

B.M.A said...

anon-"go search for Marks older posts"-

1-hundreds of candidates!!-@did you expect the GC to approve some hundred candidates so as to satisfy enemies into seeing democracy,while in reality even the beacon of democracy itself does not field such a big disturbing number!.

2-back to the hundreds! of candidates denied a chance-@now did each of these hundreds hold GOOD intentions for the Nation?.

3-you have mentioned reformists among them!NOW say something also about 'future stooges',tainted individuals,looters of public coffers,pretenders,agents,drug barons!-so don't just dismiss the vetting in the deceiving name of 'democracy'-the GC is an institution entrusted with a noble duty to defend the Nation in ensuring only good leaders have the opportunity to try their chance at the ballot.

Unknown said...

Mark, As usual your comments are simply designed to spin everything in favor of your favorite regime.

Everyone knows that this election shows that if iranians are given the smallest chance they would get rid of your regime. Even the city of Qom voted against your leaders candidates.

Please don't pretend that you don't know the difference between those who are enemies of the Iranian nation and those who are enemies of the regime.

By taking the side of the Iranian nation, and not your regime, many are making great sacrifices, like not seeing their families for decades or not being able to walk the streets were we grew up, so please stop your patronizing. You still enjoy the privilege of travel to Iran because you support the regime, not because of anything you did for "Iran".

You swore allegiance to this United States of America yet you consider the Iranian regime superior, if you did the same thing in Iran you would be in jail right know, or experiencing first hand a crane hanging on charges of treason and spying.

Thanks for the comment, I look forward to reading your next in-depth post on pics of construction projects by the IRGC.

Unknown said...

You're probably right, but at least he's trying to put himself on the side of the people "now". the Iranian people are forgiving people,..sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jabbar.
You have got to admire the Mullahs for their cunning tough. They said they will "engineer" the "selections" and they did a very good job. Scaring the Iranians with goons like Jalili and Ghalibaf so they would run and vote for another well spoken Mullah like Rohani with no real power to do anything beside fooling the Europeans (The Americans will not buy it) into lifting the sanctions and buy more time to get to the point of no return. My hat off to them. Only if the Shah had a few of them in his pocket !

Anonymous said...

Why so pesimistic?

Iran is moving on the path towards democracy. The wheels of the democracy train are in motion, and all of the Jannatis and Khameneis can't stop it. Perhaps in a decade or so, Iran will have liberalized, and transitioned to democracy.

One person you have forgotten to mention is Khatami. Now that he has allied with Rafsanjani, Rowhani is his man too. This election is a major blow to Khamenei, and a major victory for Rafsanjani (and Khatami). And since Raf is in charge of the Expediency Council, the centre of gravity in the IRI will shift towards him. And since he is allied with the reformist Khat (and he himself having suffered from persecution, with his kids being imprisoned), I think their rule will be a liberalizing one.

In my opinion, this is a major defeat for Khamenei. All of his men lost

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:32

These men are not allies, they are politicians! To think that they would willingly (in the case of Jalili/Ghalibaf) sacrifice the presidency to let Rafsanjani/Khatami's man to win is preposterous. To think Khamenei would do such a thing is simply absurd.
They (the conservatives) were so stubborn that they destroyed any chance of a conservative victory by refusing to unite behind one candidate. So the chance of them all uniting in a sinister plot to elect Rohani (Rafsanjani's man), while losing the elections in the process, is a silly conspiracy theory. In the end of the day, the IRI members are politicians, not robots.

Anonymous said...

" The Iranian People Wine, Maybe?! "

a glass of a fine Shiraz for everybody?

Anonymous said...

.... experiencing first hand a crane hanging on charges of treason and spying.

not even worth a rope.

Anonymous said...

Jabbar, Rafsanjani just won (through Rohani) The center of gravity in the IRI will almost certainly be shifting towards him. away from Khamenei. He leads the Expediency Council, which means he has the power to cancel the directives of the Guardian Council (and thus Khamenei). Khatami has also won, because he supported Rohani. So I think things will get better, not worse, for the Iranian people. Since Raf is a pragmatist, he might work out a deal with the west, while Khatami liberalized the government. Raf should be open to liberalization too, since he has now suffered under the IRI, and he is now a reformist.

Of course, I am being an optimist here. Nothing will ever happen to Raf, as long as he ends up on the right side of history.

Unknown said...

@anon 9:40
Fair enough.
I would rather you be right and for this to turn into a full blown change, starting with the release of political prisoners.

As far as khatemi, he had his chance for 8 years and none of his returns took hold. Compared to Rafsanjani he is not a major powerhouse.

I hope this is the beginning of something good , but with the IR dug in like a tick it's hard to imagine how real change would occur without the removal of the supreme leader.
Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Jabbar, let me remind you that even if Iran does become a democracy, its politics will be just as it is today, nasty, brutal, and dirty. Politics is a dirty game, and democracy won't change it.

I understand the idealism, but don't expect Iranian politics to become clean even if Iran does get democratic. Probably the way Iran becomes a democracy will be the same as the way Taiwan or South Korea did it, slowly, carried out by crafty politicians who gave democracy simply so they can become more popular. Rafsanjani may the man to do it, and he has won through Rohani.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response.

Remember, Khatami was not a major player because the establishment was against him at the time (including Rafsanjani). But now with Raf and Khat working together, it might (I pray) work. With Raf in charge of the Expediency council, he has the power to reverse the Guardian C's decisions at times (theoretically, at least).

It is possible to clip Khamenei's wings, if they play their cards right (very, very right). Iran's politics is decided heavily by backroom diplomacy. Remember back in the 90's, then President Raf was the most powerful man in Iran, and he was the main one who got Khamenei to power. He expected that Kham would be a weakling and a figurehead. Of course it didn't turn out that way (thanks to backroom diplomacy, by Kham getting Sepah/hardline cleric support) but it shows it is possible to do.

Unknown said...

@anon 10:21
Iran is "not ready" or politics is dirty is an old oudated argument.

The people can decide what they want and how they want it. Without a dictator for life & with the right consitution & protections like real free press & independent judiciary, the Iranians can enjoy what the rest of us enjoy in the USA and Europe.

Those same dirty politicians will do what they have to appease the people if they know their time maybe up in 4 years, or get arrested for corruption. in anycase a democratic mess will be our mess as people. The goal is democracy, not utopia.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

I agree with you that the excuse of dirty politics isn't a justification for keeping the Iranians in a despotic regime. My point was that democracy won't come in an idealistic manner (President I.M. Honest says "Let My People Go!"), but more like in a crafty manner (President Al Capone says "How do I get more votes? How do I stop a revolution from happening? Okay, let's give the people democracy!"

As someone stated in another post, the position of the supreme leader does not guarentee supreme power. Iranian politics is decided by many internal and backroom dynamics. Rafsanjani in the 90's was the most powerful man in Iran,
and he got a low level cleric (Khamenei) to be supreme leader, because he thought Khamenei would be a figurehead, while Rafaanjani would be the real power. And it worked until about 1992, because Rafsajani wanted to mend relations with the west, causing the hardliner clerics to back Khamenei, making him a major power.

That shows though that just because Iran has a supreme leader, doesnt mean he can't be outmaneuvered and rendered irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to post this under Jabbar Fazeli's 10:17 pm comment.

Leopersica said...

Dear Dr Fazelli,MD
Since 2009, I frequent this blog for its variety of viewpoints ,those of the bloggers and those of the commentators .
All these different shades of opinion have one common agenda, the wellbeing of Iranian nation (or Persians according to Paul).this common agenda to my opinion is, the reason “why this blog is interesting and at the end it will be helpful to the Iranians in achieving their good goals”.
Your fiery support for democracy in Iran gives the impression that you are no exception.
However when I see your interpretation of oath of allegiance to United states as absolute belligerence to a political rival .I do wonder if you have the goodwill of Iranians at your heart .
After all, Sarah Paline like you, proclaims to be a fiery supporter of democracy in Iran or Syria but.
I’m sure she is no less patriot than you are in her interpretation of her oath of allegiance to the US of A .
To an extent, that she supports bombing Iran(Or support for MEK), as means of eliminating a rival to America’s interests in the region.
I think you need to clarify this matter before posting further about democracy in Iran. We need to know if we have an Iranian-American with good intentions on his heart or a neocon in disguise, promoting his version of democracy that suits the interests of the country he has sworn allegiance with.


Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:02
Thanks for your comment. Although I deliberately exaggerated in some of my previous comment (I am not a fan of conspiracy theories by the way) I do believe that the "establishment" wanted a Rohani victory as the sanctions have had a major impact on the country. Please answer this question:
Do you think it would have been difficult for Khameneie to tell any of these guys to give up their candidacy in favor of the one that he really wanted to win? The answer in my opinion is a big NO
The regime needed a high turnout and the people a brake and they got it.
As I said I am really impressed by their cunning. Well done Supreme leader and IRGC My hat off again to them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response. When you state it that way, it does seem much more plausable that it did occur as you said.

Khamenei may be supreme leader, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has supreme power. IRI politics has moved from total one party rule (under the Islamic Republic Party under Khomeini) in the 80's to multiple axis of power (still undemocratic). That means there are various factions competing for power. For that reason I don't believe that Khamenei would order his candidates to hand over power to his rival Rafsanjani (who is Rohani's ally). Khamenei can be outmaneuvered if a powerful man like Rafsanjani plays his cards correctly, and I think that is precisely what occured here.

The anon posts I made on July 15 at 9:40 and 10:50 pm can explain the situation that I believe has developed better. Of course, it is still possible that Rafsanjani and Khamenei allied together to let Rohani win, but that again goes back the my
point of showing Khamenei doesn't have complete power after all.

Unknown said...

@Leopersica 5:27 am
Thanks for the comment.

I was mearly pointing out the hypocracy of the argument that I am a "traitor" to Iran because I am againsit the "dictatorship" in Iran.

The argument coming from a regime supprtor struck me as ironic.

I consider the IR regime to be the enemy of both the Iranian and the American people, so I find it hypocretical for a naturalized Iranian-American to call me a traitor for my opposition to the IR regime.


Do you realize that it would be easier to criticize Paul for using the word "persia" if your handle was not LoePERSICA?!

Paul is simply reflecting the use of the word "persia" instead of Iran by most iranians abroad. I would argue that they do so because they are ashamed of the image of Iran generated by the IR regime.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for your post.
I agree 100% with your analysis about the multiple centers of power within the IRI and I also agree to 100% that Khamenie is weaker now. Khomeieni was a completely different political animal with a degree of authority that he lacks.
But I believe that Khamenei's trump card is the Iranian constitution.
It does allow him to whenever necessary (Based on his view) to interfere with any decisions. Ii think he has deliberately kept a low profile in this election and my other guess is that he believes it is easier to have a president who is a cleric. These people understand each other. Remember Khatami never publicly disobeyed him the way Ahmadinejad has.
I think this a fundamental change of tactic in Iran's policy by allowing a moderate (that can be trusted and will not rattle the cage) to win the election and try to have the sanctions lifted gradually and ease the pressure on Iran. The next 6-12 months will show both to the international community and the Iranian people what they can expect.

Leopersica said...

This comment was a reply to bellow comment of Mr Fazelli ,On June 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM
By mistake it was published on this section

Leopersica said...

LoL ,Jabbar, funny Post Script remark !
you may know that Leo-Persica is the Latin for Iranian Lion an extinct cat we all love a dangerous creature yet magnificent and proud one that will tear apart a trespasser to his domain ,Persia on the other hand ,like you said is a less threatening paraphrase of the name IRAN meant to be used for Non-Iranians .
It reminds them of nicer things in life, Persian Cat, Caviar, carpet , poetry ,etc.
Useless items they like to decorate their lives with ...but to an Iranian (no matter which ethnicity) it is an insult.try to call a Scott, English and you get what I mean.
For the same reason your posts are far away from realities on Iranian streets it is for Non-Iranian consumption! And like calling yourself Persian it is meant to tell them you are no threat to them!
I don’t blame you, you need to survive and you need to be accepted in your new home ….

The "IRAN" image you're so ashamed of, is generated by corporate media they beat the war drums for their own benefit ,fight them not the country nor the people.

Anonymous said...

Maybe to you Persian is an insult. Reza Shah was stupid to change the name of the country (He wanted to get rid of the bad image created by the Ghajar Dynasty)
The country has a bad image because of the medival idiots running it as a Theocracy. I do not disagree with you on the role of Corporate media which is in many cases owned and or iflueneced by the "Jewish lobby" in both Europe and the US but when you have public hangings (In a Football stadium) and stoning of people under the pre-text of "adultry" then these things will get reported.