Sunday, July 09, 2006

Iran’s Ralph Nader

A few days ago it was the anniversary of presidential election in Iran resulting in then-unknown Mr. Ahmadinejad’s victory. Some bloggers commented on the consequences of that historical event, many have reminded the reformers, members of President Khatami’s cabinet and Mosharekat Party[1] of their faults and errors and some mentioned the fact that how Iran and her global image has changed during last year.

Few have addressed the reasons and causes of that unfortunate defeat. Many have excuses, some considered it a cooked up election, and some an inevitable one and some in their despair have given up any hope. However the writer would like to use this opportunity to remind others, how close was the result of the first round and how much that helps understanding the dynamics and demands of Iran’s diverse society.

When the results of first round were announced, Mr. Rafsanjani was first with 21%, followed by Ahmadinejad with 19.5%. The duet was followed by Karroubi (17.3%), Ghalibaf (13.9%), Moeen (13.8%), Larijani (5.9%) and Mehralizadeh (4.4%). From 7 candidates Ahmadinejad, Ghalibaf and Larijani were undoubtedly from conservative camp; while the other four were on reformers’ ticket. It is interesting to note that reformers had 56.5% of the vote in the first round. But the second round was to happen between two candidates whose characters meant more than their politics to the electorate.

Mr. Rafsanjani well known for his influence and role was not favored by public as a man capable of delivering the promises of reform. He faced then unknown and humble mayor of Tehran. While many failed to understand the complex nature of one’s political life, many felt connected to simple life style and humble appearance of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mr Abdi a keen observer of Iran’s politics predicted Mr. Rafsanjani’s defeat while many were still optimistic.

The truth was the second round happened between two wrong candidates. While Rafsanjani camp had been preparing to beat Ghalibaf, a conservative appealing to the youth or Larijani a candidate of a mainstream conservative party, reformers were hoping the second round would have happened between Mr. Rafsanjani and Moeen. They did not put much hope on Mr. Karroubi and no one tried to talk out Mr. Mehralizadeh.

The truth was everyone was wrong, tired of 8 years of empty promises and debates and disillusioned by reformers voters chose those who were closer to them. Mr. Karrubi was the second runner until the very last minute and was furious to find out he came in third at the end. A few hundred thousands votes were what missing in either Karrubi or Moeen camps to make them a second runner, here there was the Ralph Nader factor of election. One million vote of Mr. Mehralizadeh became the cavalry, who had never arrived.

The Ralph Nader of reformer camp happened to be one of President Khatami’s deputies Mr. Mehralizadeh, vice president and head of national organization for sports and athletics activities. His campaign was based on nothing else but his appeal to Azeri population in Iran. He asked them to show that they matter. And they did, ironically many who voted for him would have voted for either Moeen or Karrubi given all else equal. Thus his effect was none but to divide a divided camp even more.

It is amazing to notice that no one asked Mr. Mehralizadeh to step down; no one offered him a position of significance in administration to help him meet his election campaign goal, which at most was one of local significance. On the other hand he went on to help the opposition of his boss to win.

Last year election became what it became, not because Guardian Council was there, it happened because some campaigners forgot the political realities. Let us learn about them.

[1] Mosharekat or Jebhey e Mosharekat Iran i Islami (Frontier for Participation for Islamic Iran) is the main reform party in Iran, established during the first term of President Khatami’s administration by his colleagues and family members. Many had belonged to organizations or circles in the left side of political spectrum in Iran. President Khatami’s brother became general secretary of this party. He was nominated as vice president by Mosharekat’s candidate Dr. Moeen in 2005 election.

1 comment:

Arash said...

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Very well written.