Parliamentary elections this Friday in Iran are far from being free and fair. Well, at least that’s a step beyond those paragons of democracy – the election-free Persian Gulf monarchies. In Iran, this time the problem is there’s no opposition; it’s cons (conservatives) against neo-cons. The Green Movement leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr Zahra Rahnavard, as well as Mehdi Karroubi, have been under house arrest for over a year now; echoing Myanmar’s Aung Suu Kyi, but more vocally, they have repeatedly stressed they will not “repent”. Virtually all key opposition leaders, including university activists, almost 1,000 people, are in jail; not because they’re criminals but because they’re very canny organizers of popular anger.
The most influential opposition groups have in fact been outlawed – and that even includes groups of clerics and the Islamically correct Association of Teachers and Scholars in the holy city of Qom. No fewer than 42 influential journalists are also in jail. The absolute majority of the reformist press has been shut down. Non-government organizations such as the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, founded by Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, have been outlawed.
A short definition of these elections would be something like this; a byzantine scheme of power sharing between political groups representing a very small elite, while large swathes of the population – and their representatives – are totally sidelined. Essentially, this will be a fierce battle between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So why do these elections matter so much?
Full Article: Asia Times Online :: What’s at stake in Iran’s elections.