May 23, 2005


Election Choices Slashed in Iran: Only six out of more than 1,000 presidential hopefuls are allowed to run. Nation's reformists warn the Guardian Council of a backlash. (Nahid Siamdoust and Megan K. Stack, May 23, 2005, LA Times)

Iran's hard-line Guardian Council disqualified more than 1,000 presidential hopefuls on Sunday, narrowing a diverse field of candidates for next month's election to just six conservative contenders.

The surprise announcement all but guarantees that a conservative will take over the presidency from moderate Mohammad Khatami, whose attempts at reform have been stifled in the increasingly rigid political climate of recent years.

Iran's largest reformist party decried the disqualifications and threatened to boycott the June 17 election unless the decision was reversed by the Guardian Council, which answers directly to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In a similar move last year, the Guardian Council disqualified more than 2,500 reformist candidates from parliamentary elections. Voter turnout plunged, staunch conservatives won control of the legislature, and despair rose among Iranians seeking a more moderate government.

The effort to consolidate power in the hands of conservatives comes at a sensitive time for Iran's leaders, who are negotiating with the West over the nation's nuclear program.

Iran says its aims are to generate electricity, but the United States has accused Tehran of secretly working to build a nuclear bomb. At least one of the reformist candidates disqualified Sunday had urged Iran to make concessions in the talks.

Rajabali Mazrouei, a prominent member of the largest reform party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, urged the council to reconsider the disqualifications.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," Mazrouei told Associated Press. "Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election."

Such actions merely demonstrate the fear of the hard-liners and the certain knowledge that they couldn't win open elections. But the reform required here is discrete enough that domestic and international pressure could be brought to bear on just making the one slight change...the rest of the dominoes follow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2005 7:36 AM

That would be great OJ except for one thing. They will have nukes before one domino falls. After that, they can do whatever they want and no one is going to do a thing.

Posted by: BJW at May 23, 2005 1:52 PM

Nukes didn't save the Afrikaaners.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2005 2:12 PM

"Surprise announement"? The Guardian Council covers its backside again and western journalists find this astonishing?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 23, 2005 5:18 PM