November 19, 2004


In Iran, Students Urge Citizens Not to Vote (Robin Wright, November 19, 2004, Washington Post)

A new movement of passive resistance is quietly sweeping young people in Iran, a response both to the reform movement's failure to introduce political and economic change and conservatives' control over who can run for office, according to Iranian student leaders and political analysts.

Students have launched a campaign to convince people not to vote in presidential elections next May, so as to discredit the results -- and all parties. The movement, combined with significant apathy among older voters, represents one of the most significant challenges to the Islamic republic 25 years after a revolution toppled the monarchy, students and analysts here say.

"Our message is that by not giving our vote, the government won't have legitimacy," said Abdollah Momeni, a leader of the Office to Consolidate Unity who has been detained by authorities twice. "We want to show that it is an undemocratic government."

With some 70 percent of the population under age 25, Iran's youth is a pivotal voice in politics, especially since the voting age is 16. They were the most influential force in the 1997 upset victory of President Mohammed Khatami, a dark-horse reform candidate, largely through a word-of-mouth campaign, analysts here say.

They now plan to do it again.

You don't have to have much grasp of demographics to see the mullahs' problem here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2004 11:42 PM
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