June 4, 2009


Iran reformists hope for high election turnout (ALI AKBAR DAREINI, 6/04/09, Associated Press)

The reformists in the race are Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi. Conservative candidate Mohsen Rezaei is not seen as a serious challenger but someone who could siphon conservative votes away from Ahmadinejad and thereby boost the reformists' chances.

Karroubi, who has said he wouldn't mind meeting President Barack Obama if it would serve Iran's national interests, urged supporters at a rally Friday to show up at the polls.

"Staying away from the elections doesn't help ... If people vote in large numbers, the situation will change," he said.

His campaign manager, Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, said a high turnout can definitely unseat Ahmadinejad.

"If more than 32 million votes are cast, the possibility that Ahmadinjad will not win is over 65 percent," he said. "But if 27 million people or less vote, the likelihood of a change is less than 35 percent."

The math is based on the thinking that hard-liners traditionally have the backing of between 12 to 15 million Iranians. Any turnout over 30 million could work in favor of the reformists.

A high turnout helped a landslide victory for former reformist president Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 and 2001 elections. But in 2005, reformists lost mainly because many of their young, potential supporters abstained.

Reformists complain that state media have done little to promote the election and they accuse the government of supporting voter apathy.

Mousavi supporters also took to the streets Friday, putting up posters and handing out election pamphlets. Young men with green ribbons tied around their wrists and young women in green headscarves asked passers-by to vote for "change."

While he's doing his Middle East two-step, the UR should cite Iran as an example of Islam's democratic potential and call for massive turnout. W's decision to tamp down turnout last time really back-fired.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 4, 2009 3:04 PM
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