Friday’s election in Iran was surprising on multiple fronts. Perceived reformer Hassan Rouhani won a majority of the vote in the first round, clinching the presidency to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has held that position since 2005. Iranians took to the streets in celebration during the weekend to recognize not only Rouhani’s unlikely victory with 50.7 percent of the vote, but also the process itself which, unlike 2009, did not appear to be rigged by the country’s ruling elites. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei likely felt pressure to give way to the majority rule due to the country’s economy, crippled by international sanctions, and the series of uprisings throughout the region. Protests that began in the Arab Spring in late 2010 continue to roil in countries such as neighboring Syria and Turkey.
Hassan Rouhani has hailed his election as Iran’s president as a “victory of moderation over extremism”. The reformist-backed cleric won just over 50% of the vote and so avoided the need for a run-off. Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran when the result was announced, shouting pro-reform slogans. The US expressed concern at a “lack of transparency” and “censorship” but praised the Iranian people and said it was ready to work with Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged continued international pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear programme. “The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure on Iran for it to stop its nuclear programme,” Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to a statement released by his office.
In the end, Iran’s presidential election may be defined by who doesn’t vote. Arguments over whether to boycott Friday’s ballot still boiled over at coffee shops, kitchen tables and on social media among many liberal-leaning Iranians on the eve of the voting. The choice, once easy for many who turned their back in anger after years of crackdowns, has been suddenly complicated by an unexpected chance to perhaps wage a bit of payback against Iran’s rulers. The rising fortunes of the lone relative moderate left in the race, former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, has brought a dilemma for many Iranians who faced down security forces four years ago: Stay away from the polls in a silent protest or jump back into the mix in a system they claim has been disgraced by vote rigging. Which way the scales tip could set the direction of the election and the fate for Rowhani, a cleric who is many degrees of mildness removed from being an opposition leader. But he is still the only fallback option for moderates in an election that once seemed preordained for a pro-establishment loyalist.
Despite four years of non-stop pressure, arrests and intimidation, Iran’s dissidents still find ways to show their resilience. Protest messages still ricochet around social media despite Iran’s cyber cops’ attempts to control the Web. Angry graffiti pops up and then quickly painted over by authorities. Mourners at the funeral of a dissident cleric flashed V-for-victory gestures and chanted against the state. But just a look at the sidewalks around Tehran’s Mellat Park shows how far Iran’s opposition has fallen as the country prepares for Friday’s presidential election.
The last time Iran had a presidential vote, millions took to the streets calling foul when the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was declared the winner. Four years on, the Islamic Republic has not yet fully recovered from the ensuing political heart-attack. After a year of demonstrations and repression, the battle for Iran’s future was won by Iran’s conservative hardliners loyal to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Their reformist rivals were sidelined: Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the thwarted reformists’ favourite who claimed to have won the 2009 election, remains under house arrest, along with a fellow candidate, Mehdi Karroubi. Politics, even within the confines of the Islamic state, is as polarised as ever. Now the reformists are pondering how to pick themselves up for another fight: the first round of the coming presidential poll, on June 14th. Eight candidates are running, following a purge of hundreds of other aspirants by the Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and lawyers, half of them appointed by Mr Khamenei. The council controversially barred a former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom reformers would probably have backed, from running. Two reform-minded candidates remain: Hassan Rohani and Muhammad Reza Aref, both of whom stayed silent during the tumult after the 2009 poll. The reformists are mulling over whether to throw in their lot with one of them.
With 10 days until Iran’s presidential election, voters have been able watch the candidates in debate, but many remain unenthused, believing the result will depend not on those on the platform but on powerful men in the background. The Revolutionary Guards, a military force over 100,000 strong which also controls swathes of Iran’s economy, is widely assumed to have fixed the vote last time around, silenced those who protested and to be preparing to anoint a favored candidate this year, having already narrowed down the field. The successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who steps down after a second term, will remain subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And many see the hand of the Guards, the muscle of the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, in steering victory toward one of several conservative loyalists -while stifling the kind of protests that followed the 2009 vote.
Authorities in Iran have imposed a six-month ban on a newspaper linked to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, as tensions rise in the run-up to next week’s presidential election. The prohibition on Iran, a state-owned newspaper under the administration of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government, was imposed for “false reporting”, according to local news agencies, although they did not elaborate. The ban is the latest sign of Mr Ahmadinejad’s increasing marginalisation within Iran’s theocratic system.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denounced as unjust the disqualification of his top aide from next month’s presidential election and says he plans to appeal to Iran’s supreme ruler. Ahmadinejad spoke a day after the Guardian Council, which vets candidates, barred the out-going president’s confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, from the June 14 poll along with former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the nation’s most illustrious political figures. Tuesday’s decisions enraged the pair’s many supporters and threatened to deflate turnout. Mashaei was “unjustly treated,” the president told reporters, according to the conservative Fars News Agency. “I have presented … Mashaei as a righteous and religious person who could be useful for the country.”
Iran: After being banned from election, Iran’s Rafsanjani blasts ruling clerics, report says | Associated Press
Banned from upcoming elections, Iran’s former president has leveled harsh criticism at the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, saying they are doing a poor job running the country, an Iranian pro-reform website reported late on Wednesday. The remarks by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani come days after a constitutional watchdog disqualified him from running in the June 14 presidential election. The wording was particularly strong for Rafsanjani, considered a centrist who generally defers to the supremacy of the ruling clerics. He had previously lashed out at authorities after a crackdown on protests following the disputed 2009 elections. Because of his stance then, Rafsanjani’s 2013 candidacy had revitalized reformist hopes. Rafsanjani has not made any direct public statements since his Tuesday disqualification. The quote was not carried on his official website, and the report could not independently verified.
Iran’s electoral watchdog has barred moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from standing in a June 14 presidential election, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. Eight candidates won approval to stand — five conservatives close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as two moderate conservatives and a reformist, according to AFP. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close but controversial aide to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was also omitted from the list, AFP reported. No explanation was given for the disqualifications. Earlier today, Iranian news websites boosted speculation Tuesday that election overseers have barred two prominent but divisive figures from next month’s presidential ballot, in a move that would eliminate a threat to the country’s hard-liners, AP said.
Iran’s election overseers removed potential wild-card candidates from the presidential race Tuesday, blocking a top aide of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a former president who revived hopes of reformers. Their exclusion from the June 14 presidential ballot gives establishment-friendly candidates a clear path to succeed Ahmadinejad, who has lost favor with the ruling clerics after years of power struggles. It also pushes moderate and opposition voices further to the margins as Iran’s leadership faces critical challenges such as international sanctions and talks with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran is tightening control of the Internet ahead of next month’s presidential election, mindful of violent street protests that social networkers inspired last time around over claims of fraud, users and experts say. The authorities deny such claims, but have not explained exactly why service has become slower. Businesses, banks and even state organisations are not spared by the widespread disruption in the Internet, local media say. “The Internet is in a coma,” said the Ghanoon daily in a report in early this month. “It only happens in Iran: the election comes, the Internet goes,” it said, quoting a tweet in Farsi. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and numerous other sites, including thousands of Western ones, have been censored in Iran since massive street demonstrations that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. Those protests — stifled by a heavy-handed crackdown that led to numerous arrests and even deaths — were instigated online and observers say the authorities are choking the Internet to prevent a recurrence.
A member of Iran’s constitutional watchdog group insists that women cannot be presidential candidates, a report said Thursday, effectively killing the largely symbolic bids by about 30 women seeking to run in the June 14 election. Even before the comments by Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, chances for a woman candidate in Iran’s presidential election were considered nearly impossible. Women also have registered as potential candidates in past presidential elections, but the group that vets hopefuls appears to follow interpretations of the constitution that suggest only a man may hold Iran’s highest elected office. Women, however, are cleared to run for Iran’s parliament and have served as lawmakers.
Some 100 legislators are demanding a ban on two top independent candidates including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from Iran’s June presidential election in what may be a further move to thwart any brewing challenge to the clerical supreme leader. The petition by parliamentarians to Iran’s Guardian Council emerged three days after the electoral watchdog said outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face charges for accompanying former aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the other high-profile independent, to register on Saturday for the vote. That warning raised speculation that the council would bar Mashaie. The parliamentarians – conservative hardliners loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – appeared to follow up by urging the watchdog to disqualify both independents.
After accompanying his former chief of staff to register for June’s presidential vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face punishment if charged with breaking electoral rules. On Sunday, the country’s electoral watchdog attracted worldwide media attention after pointing out Ahmadinejad may face a punishment of “74 lashes” for accompanying and appearing to endorse election entrant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie. Iranian electoral law bans individuals from supporting candidates in an official capacity, while the use of state resources on behalf of or against any candidate is also banned. A conviction could bring a maximum punishment of six months in jail or 74 lashes, according to Iranian press reports. But analysts have brushed off “hyped” claims that Ahmadinejad would be penalized, and even if he were to be lashed or imprisoned, it may not be anytime soon.
Iran’s constitutional watchdog said on Sunday it would seek possible charges against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for allegedly violating rules by accompanying his chief adviser to the election registry office the previous day. The dispute appears to stem from an ongoing confrontation between Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics in Iran following years of power struggles. It could also herald potential difficulties for Ahmadinejad’s protege, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, to be cleared for the presidential election on 14 June to choose Ahmadinejad’s successor. The president himself is not running since Iran’s constitution bars him from seeking a third term in office.
Iran opened the registration process for candidates in the fortchcoming preidential elections on Tuesday, with a number of conservative candidates coming forward, AFP reported. Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unable to stand in the poll under Iranian law, as he’s already served two consecutive terms. This year’s election will be watched closely by the rest of the world, after the previous election, won by Ahmadinejad, sparked mass protests throughout the country that were violently suppressed.
In totalitarian dictatorships diversity of opinion doesn’t exist. And so is the case in the Islamic Republic of Iran where all secular organizations and parties were eliminated at the beginning of the Islamic revolution of 1979. Nevertheless, in keeping up appearances, presidential elections are to be held in that country on June 14th. There is an ‘inter-Islamist’ discussion about which Islamist candidate could serve the ruling leader Ali Khamenei in the best way. And that’s the gist of it; the candidates will not deviate from the ruling Islamic doctrine.
Reports have claimed that the Iranian President was arrested this week and warned against releasing information which could prove damaging to the country’s Islamic regime. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was allegedly held for seven hours by the Revolutionary Guard on Monday and told to back down with claims that the regime defrauded voters at the last general election and allegations of fraud against political rivals. According to WND.com, the President was returning from a book fair in Tehran when his security advisor was informed that he was requested to appear at the Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei’s office on an urgent matter. But three other cars are said to have joined the President’s convoy and contact was lost between him and his security vehicles.
The Public Relations Center of the Administration of the President of Iran published a press release rejecting information with reference to some president’s allies about existence of a record showing a fraud that happened during the presidential elections in 2009. On Monday, some media outlets in Iran released news about a record of Ahmadinjad’s conversation with some officials after the presidential elections. According to them, the alleged record shows that some Iranian authorities forced Ahmadinejad to announce that he canvassed 24 million votes, while his real votes were only 16 million. According to the claims, Ahmadinejad first disagreed, but they insisted upon their plan to show a large difference between the votes canvassed by Ahmadinejad and his major rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Iran: Ahmadinejad To Expose 2009 Voter Fraud If Protégé Barred From June 14 Election | Eurasia Review
As Iran gears up for its presidential election in June, the question of fraud in the 2009 election continues to haunt the country’s leadership. Baztab, a widely read news site close to former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaei, stirred up controversy on Saturday after it claimed that Ahmadinejad, Iran’s beleaguered head of government, was in possession of a tape that would prove that authorities had inflated his number of votes in the 2009 race by 8 million and thus brought his total tally to 24 million instead of his original 16 million. … Baztab claimed that Ahmadinejad had threatened to release the alleged tape should the Guardian Council, a body charged with overseeing elections, decide to bar his top aide and protégé Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei from running in the upcoming presidential election on 14 June.
Four years ago the re-election of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which millions considered fraudulent and led to months of violent protest, marked the elimination of the country’s reformists at the hands of their hard-line rivals. Now a new and equally bitter struggle is in full cry—between two different types of hardliner, fighting over an Islamic Republic that has been sapped by international sanctions. Less than two months before the presidential poll, the contest resembles nothing so much as a game of chicken. In the middle of the road stand Mr Ahmadinejad, the outgoing president, with his presumed dauphin: the suave, ambitious Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The two men are almost family; the president’s son is married to Mr Mashaei’s daughter. They also share apparently limitless reserves of self-confidence, disdain for the revolutionary old guard of crusty clerics, and a yen for millenarian Shiism (see article) that traditionalists see as almost heretical.
Election rhetoric in Iran has increased since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements earlier in the week, in which he threatened to reveal sensitive information about his political enemies and taunted them that they are “nobody” to confront him. Immediately after the statements, several figures in Iran responded. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of the armed forces, said that what the president did “was unacceptable, and it is disturbing public order.” He added that “we hope the president puts an end to this type of discourse.” Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also responded to the president’s statements. He wrote to the president, “There could be two reasons why you still haven’t revealed anything. Either you’re bluffing … or you’re worried they’ll reveal something about you. Could there be any other reason?”
The reform movement that took to the streets to protest alleged vote-rigging in Iran’s last presidential election has been crushed. The supreme leader has made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated this time. But that doesn’t mean the maneuvering to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election set for June 14 has been without intrigue. Ahmadinejad, who was reelected in the disputed 2009 balloting, is barred by law from seeking a third term and is publicly promoting a trusted aide to replace him. It is far from clear, however, whether the president’s preferred successor will even be allowed to run. For much of the outside world, the incumbent remains the defiant face of the Iranian theocracy. At home, however, the clerical establishment that backed him four years ago has tired of what hard-liners regard as his divisiveness and lack of deference to the religious leadership. The election comes at a difficult moment for the Islamic Republic, which is facing the prospect of increased international isolation.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, a close aide and advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has announced that the government will not allow anything to compromise the health and transparency of the presidential election. In an interview with the state news agency IRNA on Sunday March 24, Mashai said the president has announced that he will be ready to confront even the slightest shadow of doubt about the running of the elections. Iran’s presidential election is set for June 2013. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not eligible to run, having already served two consecutive terms, but he is reportedly intent on promoting his close advisor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, to run in the race.
Iran’s presidential campaign is well under way. The unprecedented public attack by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, in which Ahmadinejad accused Larijani of trying to control Iran through a family-run mafia, attests to a deep divide within the Iranian regime. But unlike in most real democracies, the likely contenders for the presidency are not trying to woo reluctant voters with snazzy TV ads or get-out-the-vote drives. Indeed, many regime officials would prefer that many Iranians—especially liberal urbanites—not vote at all. The June election will not be about mobilizing the Iranian public. It is instead the culmination of a years-long evolution in Iranian politics: the transformation of the Islamic Republic from a mildly representative theocracy into a Revolutionary Guards-controlled kleptocracy. Ultimately, the election is meant to fulfill Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s ambition of wielding absolute authority. But far from strengthening his rule, the election could actually erode the credibility and legitimacy of a fading regime. Elections in Iran have never been a truly democratic affair. Sure, Iranians have had the opportunity to vote for president and parliament every four years. But the elections have always been held within the accepted “framework”of the Islamic Republic. Only candidates who adhere to the Islamic theocracy are allowed to run.
Iranian reformists have written to Iran’s Supreme Leader to discuss the possibility of their participation in the 2013 presidential election. ISNA reported on Sunday March 3 that Mohammad Javad Haghshenas, the deputy head of the Reformists Front, referred to the letter when he said: “In this letter, we have discussed the issues surrounding the 2013 election and the possibility of party participation.” He stressed that the head of two other reformists groups have joined with him to call for an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader in person to discuss the issue and find out his views on the matter.
Iran will stage its annual show of solidarity and defiance Sunday, a festive day of scripted rallies and fiery oratory marking the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and denouncing “satanic” Washington and its allies. But with a pivotal presidential election approaching in June, the veneer of unity among Iran’s diverse political blocs has been wearing thin as average Iranians struggle to cope with a withering, sanctions-driven economic crisis. Even before official candidates have emerged, a nasty spate of preelection infighting has erupted, unveiling an unedifying display of name-calling and mudslinging. Last week, Iranians witnessed the stunning public spectacle of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad going before the parliament to play an apparently secretly taped video clip that, he alleged, exposed corrupt dealings by the powerful family of parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani — the president’s bitter rival and a possible candidate to succeed him.
Iran: Make no mistake: This time Ali Khamenei is determined to put one of his own in charge | The Economist
The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is sure that the approaching election to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose second term ends in June, will be free and fair. So sure, in fact, that he has forbidden discussion of it. This was the import of a speech he gave last month in the holy city of Qom. In the way of such speeches, it had the opposite effect to the one he wanted. There had been grumbles before Mr Khamenei’s intervention, mostly recalling the country’s last presidential poll, in 2009, which returned Mr Ahmadinejad in dubious circumstances at the expense of his reformist rivals. The supreme leader’s words were uttered on the same day that one of his clerical representatives, Ali Saeedi, bluntly called on the Revolutionary Guard to “engineer” the elections. The result, even in an increasingly authoritarian Iran, was uproar.
A heated debate about who will be allowed to run in Iran’s presidential election has erupted five months before the vote, stoking concerns about a repeat of the protests that followed the contested 2009 poll. At the heart of the controversy is whether the vote will be what critics of Iran’s electoral system call “free” — that is, cast with a ballot that includes candidates from all of Iran’s various political factions and not just principlists, the conservatives who are loyal to the Shiite Muslim clerical establishment that rules Iran. The loudest calls for an open field of participants are coming from two former presidents and the outgoing one, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.