June 17, 2005


Iran's Presidential Race Appears Headed for Run-Off (John Daniszewski, June 17, 2005, LA Times)

As polls closed four hours late Friday on Iran's most closely fought presidential election in the 26 years since the Islamic revolution, it appeared that none of the seven candidates would win a majority, resulting in an unprecedented run-off vote likely to pit pragmatic ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani against reformist candidate Mostafa Moin.

Aides to Moin voiced confidence that his come-from-behind campaign had edged out the three main conservative contenders, in a major blow for hard-line factions that had hoped to keep all reformers off the ballot and to win back the presidency after eight years of President Mohammad Khatami, who had constantly battled for greater freedoms inside Iran.

No official returns were expected until late Saturday and there was no way to verify the Moin camp's optimism, reflected in a buoyant mood at its headquarters here, where smiling aides rushed back and forth beneath posters of the bald former education minister. Moin hopes to become the first non-clerical president of Iran since the early days of the revolution.

One of Moin's campaign supporters, Mohsen Safaee Farahani, former head of the Iranian soccer federation, read off numbers from a small slip of paper in his hand of returns he said he had obtained from a remote town in the Central Province where votes had already been counted. In one, he said, Moin had obtained 10,003 votes out of 15,030 votes cast; in another 218 of 340; in a third, 104 of 140.

"This is unbelievable for us," he said with a grin. "We did not advertise in this area because we could not afford it. It shows that our message has reached outside of Tehran."

"Some people boycotted because they have lost confidence that things will get better. But if Moin gets to the second round, I believe most of those who boycotted will come back to him."

Now they can turn the run-off into a real challenge to the mullahs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2005 11:37 PM

From Pejmanesque:

Jonathan Steele argues that the clerics in Iran fear the presidential elections going on today more than they have feared elections in the past because, among other things, the choice of candidates is wider. I'm afraid that does not cut it, however. So long as the presidency itself is an impotent office and Iranian politics remains in thrall of a supreme theocratic leader and the reform-curbing Guardian Council, all of the choice in the world won't matter one whit. If the Iranian presidency were an office of consequence, perhaps Steele might have a point. But it is more and more a ceremonial post and all of the speculation about who might fill this ceremonial post seems to be a distraction from more real and fundamental issues facing Iran and the Iranian people.

Iran is not going to be solved in the voting booth.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 18, 2005 8:39 AM

Sure it is, but the elected reformer will have to confront the unelected clerics with those who elected him at his back.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 9:18 AM

As long as the mullahs have an many hundred thousand man army of the Islamic equivalent of Mao's Red Guards, and they do, they have nothing to fear from elections. The Iranian people could elect Ariel Sharon and it wouldn't change a damn thing.

Posted by: bart at June 18, 2005 10:36 AM

If the people don't have the 'nads to rise up against the Guardian Council (as they rose up against the shah) then nothing will change. Somewhere, there is a spark that will ignite the Iranians, but at present they don't seem to be motivated to do more than complain. People usually get the government they deserve and the Iranians seem too complacent do anything more than elect a new reformist figurehead - if that.

Posted by: patrick h at June 18, 2005 12:03 PM

Let's see. Since I started reading here, your consistent predictions have been imminent revolution in Iran, lower oil prices and that Iraq would be off the front pages as of last September.

Oil was $58/bbl yesterday, Iraq is on the front page of my paper every day. What odds Iran is headed for revolution?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 18, 2005 12:58 PM


You're right though--big mistake to leave the troops in Iraq so long, cost Bush at least ten states.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 1:00 PM

Latest stories reveal that oj's savior is not going to be allowed to finish in the top 2. There's far too much at stake to let this thing go on any more. Bring the troop in Iraq & S. Korea home via Iran...

Posted by: b at June 18, 2005 1:28 PM

Theyt may have shot themselves in the foot by calling for a boycott, but Rafsanjani ran as a reformer too and has enough of a power base to get things done.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 1:55 PM

Rafsanjani has promised to nuke Israel at the earliest opportunity even if it results in Iran being nuked. That is a peculiar kind of reformer or moderate.

Harry, when refining capacity is increased, and it probably makes commercial sense to do so now for the first time in about 2 decades, prices will fall. Cartels cannot hold down supply because members will always jump the queue. OPEC doesn't control anywhere near 50% of the world's oil so its power is limited.

That being said, although Iran is pretty revolting, it isn't going to have a revolution any time soon because the mullahs keep a tight lid on things, far more so than the wimpy Shah ever did. As for Iraq, it would have been out of the news a year ago had we just split the place up into three states and carpet-bombed the Sunnis when they got out of line.

Posted by: bart at June 18, 2005 3:46 PM

That's just good politics. Sharon says he'll bomb them too.

Posted by: oj at June 18, 2005 3:50 PM