I’ve been quite surprised, and worried, while feeling ambivalent, about what’s going on in Iran at the moment. As opposed to most other muslim countries, Iran has something of a facade of democracy. However, as the religious council has to approve every single presidential candidate, the people’s choice is, obviously, still quite limited.
Now, with Mousavi, the defeated candidate in this year’s election, being slightly more liberal and certainly more photogenic, the world at large seems to think that because Iran’s middle class is very vocal and has an idea on how to use citizen media, Mousavi must be the answer to all Iran’s democratic woes.
Mousavi’s Wikipedia page puts him up as an extensive liberal, but this has to be taken with a grain of salt. His candidacy for the presidency, too, was vetted by the religious council and the views as listed here would have never allowed him to stand.
Ethan Zuckerman has an excellent post on the Iranian election and citizen media. It resulted in my throwing in my two cents worth:
Note that the voting results for 2005 were actually almost identical to this year’s: 61.69% for Ahmadinejad and 35.93% for Rafsanjani, though Ahmadinejad scored less than Rafsanjani in the first round of voting.
However, with, then, some 64% turnout, this year’s turnout of 85% is astounding. Perhaps, in the light of some 30 towns having a voter turnout of over 100%, this can be easily explained…
Also, on vote rigging, Rafsanjani, in 2005, complained of voting irregularities as well, which, in the light of Mousavi being seen as a proxy for the Rafsanjani family, starts to indicate that this year’s election could simply be something of a rerun of the previous one.
But back to citizen media: Indeed, Mousavi’s support is significant, but, if anything, not likely enough to be a significant majority of the population, though perhaps the most vocal and, surely, visible.
In ‘the west’, the lower classes of society typically don’t often make the news, then when they, en masse, vote for a right wing candidate, everyone is suddenly shocked at not being able to see this coming (Le Pen, Wilders, BNP, Haider).
Clearly, Ahmadinejad has quite some support. We just don’t hear much about it.
A good article with lots of background information, followed by a second article, appeared in the Asia Times. Both were written by M K Bhadrakumar, a former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service.
Excellent analysis, though his mentioning of Twitter in both articles feels out of place.