Iran Heads to the Polls
Robert F. Worth, writing for the same paper, comments that President Ahmadinejad’s tactics during the campaign have guaranteed that the next four years of his presidency would not be the same as the last. In claiming that many of the early leaders of the Islamic Revolution were corrupt, Ahmadinejad has aligned Iran’s political elite against him, and they will not forgive him readily. “The elite will not let go of Ahmadinejad’s neck” said one Iranian journalist.
Al Arabiya reports that polling hours have been extended to 8:30 pm to accommodate the large crowds, yet the government blocked seven pro-reformist websites and a number of Persian satellite channels. Leading challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s campaign is already claiming that early indicators show that Mousavi is receiving 58-60% of the vote. Unsurprisingly, this assertion is being challenged by Ahmadinejad’s campaign.
Meanwhile, over at the Daily Star, Ahmad Sadri has an interesting article on how different methods of media distribution have encouraged Iranian opposition movements throughout history, with Facebook as the current medium of choice for supporters of the reformist candidates.
Perhaps more seriously, there are already reports of irregularities at the polls. The Mousavi campaign is reporting that revolutionary guards have attempted to prevent his representatives from monitoring the polls at several voting locations. “I promised people I would protect their votes” Mousavi told Al Arabiya, “and now I urge all authorities to be accountable and protect the people’s votes.”
These claims come after a secret meeting between Mousavi and fellow reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi, presumably with regards to how best to proceed should a runoff election occur on June 19.
Writing at ForeignPolicy.com, Marc Lynch has written about a possible “Mousavi Effect,” wherein a Mousavi victory might mark a major turning point in Iran’s relations with the Arab world. Though major policy decisions are always vetted by the supreme leader, Mousavi could make effective use of soft power, opening “a window of opportunity for Iranian public diplomacy.”