What You Need to Know About Iran’s Farcical Elections
You’ve got questions, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s got answers
Ladies and gentleman, today’s the big day! After eight long years of fretting over the words and deeds of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was never really in charge of Iran anyway, it’s time for Iranians to “go to the polls” and elect another pretend leader in the country’s quadrennial democracy sham. Hooray!
Who can run: Iranians who aren’t too old, too Jewish, too female, or too anti-establishment. In lieu of gathering signatures for a petition, Iran makes it easy for both a candidate and a populace by cutting through all the thinking and electoral guesswork of Western democracies.
How to become a candidate: Just be approved by the 12-member Guardian Council, made up of six Islam experts and six jurists.
Who elects members of the Guardian Council? No one, silly! Like all presidential candidates, all Guardian Council members are screened by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
What if you are a popular candidate with years of experience? The Islamic Republic of Iran would probably thank you for interest. There were nearly 700 candidates this year (including 30 women), which the Guardian Council whittled down to eight. Among the many popular, disqualified candidates were former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was deemed too
critical of Iran’s response to the 2009 protests that plagued the last election old, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close friend of and former chief-of-staff for Ahmadinejad, who fell out of favor with the political elite.
But that doesn’t make any… SILENCE.
What does Iran look for in a candidate: Unflinching loyalty for starters! Do you love Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei? I mean, really really love them both? Do you hate the West? You’re off to a good start.
What else? Variety also helps. Take Ali Akbar Velayati, for example. He’s conservative, he’s very close with Khamenei, he studied infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, and he has an international warrant out for his alleged role in the AMIA bombing! Who better to lead a corrupt theocracy than someone who knows all the technical names of maladies and can use them as invective to hurl at Iran’s opponents?
How will this election be different from the last? Uh, no liberal candidates this time. In 2009, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s reform-minded candidacy raised some serious issues for Iran’s leadership. After Mousavi “lost,” there were some serious protests, you might remember.
Who’s going to win? The people of Iran, obviously! I kid, I kid. They’re in trouble.
One candidate who has gained some traction is Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, whom some people are calling a moderate with an openness toward improving relations with the West.
The former presidents Mohammad Khatami, seen as the leader of Iran’s reformist movement, and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani publicly endorsed Rouhani on Tuesday.
If the conservative candidates split the vote and Rowhani wins (or is allowed to win), maybe we’ll see Iran take a different approach to things, you know, assuming Khamenei allows it.
Other frontrunners are Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, the hardline mayor of Tehran, and Saeed Jalili, whose longtime support as the proclaimed frontrunner may have just been a Potemkin Village.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.