June 3, 2009

Upcoming Presidential Election in Iran

Next presidential election in Iran not only matters to Iranians, but also, for good reasons, can affect the region and some of the global affairs. Since the political processes in Iran are almost unknown to foreign observers, it is worth publishing some information about would-be presidents of Iran. Four candidates are running for coming presidential elections in Iran:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current fundamentalist president who finds himself bound to win.

Mahdi Karrubi, former reformist parliament speaker.

Mirhosein Mousavi, ex-premier of war time and supposedly most hopeful reformist candidate.

Mohsen Rezayi, former commander-in-chief of Revolutionary Guards.

Many analysts believe that Rezayi is not likely to beat his powerful rivals. Since he left Revolutionary Guards, Rezayi, who got his PhD in economics, has been trying to put on a political, intellectual gesture. In my opinion, he is the best speaker among current candidates, having detailed programs regarding politics, economy, etc. He tries to propose radical changes in some important issues. For example, he chose a woman, Dr. Boroujerdi (grand daughter of Ayatollah Khomeini), to be his foreign affairs minister, "just to beat Hillary Clinton," to use his own words. In addition, regarding Iran-US relations, he is to propose Change Package in which detailed sequence of changes are described that could help remove some of the barriers to better relations. He even said that meeting Obama in next UN summit is possible, given that some good things happen within next few months. Even though he is somehow associated with so-called tradition-minded parties (hardliners), Rezayi has seriously criticized Ahmadinejad. For example, he was quoted as saying "if the trend of current administration is to be continued, it would bring the country to the verge [of destruction]." In addition, he has objected what he calls Political Adventurism of current administration.

Mousavi was Iran’s last premiere in the time of Iran-Iraq war. (After the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, some changes were made to Iran’s constitution, one of which was removing premiership, leaving the responsibility of forming the cabinet to the president.) After the assassination of Rajayi, Iran’s second president, Ayatollah Khamenei won the presidential election and chose Mousavi as premier for his first term of presidency. After four years, Ayatollah Khamenei assumed power again for his second term. However, this time he was reluctant to choose Mousavi for they had many problems with each other. Many people, major commanders and politicians among them, asked Ayatollah Khomeini to intervene in favor of Mousavi. Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei, though still reluctant, chose Mousavi as premiere. When Ayatollah Khomeini passed away, Ayatollah Khamenei was elected Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Rafsanjani won the presidential election. Mousavi, once the most popular figure next to Ayatollah Khomeini, got forced to leave political sphere and has been silent since then. Now, major reformist parties support him as their candidate. Many of these parties have fundamental problems with him, but since they swear by him as the most hopeful option competing Ahmadinejad, a strategic alliance is formed so as to beat Ahmadinejad.

Karroubi, the only clergyman among current candidates, is not a strong character by his own. However, he played a significant role in reformist administration and it gave him the chance of winning an influential position among reformist factions. Moreover, after Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, he ranked third in the first round of previous presidential election which was barely expected of him. (It should be mentioned that he publicly objected the result, claiming that some inaccuracies and possible interventions were playing role helping Ahmadinejad go to second round.) In order to arrange for the next campaign, he formed a party, Etemade Melli (national trust). Now, a good team of experts, academics and reformist intellectuals support him.

Ahmadinejad; no need to explain. (I’m afraid if he is going to win. Bernard Shaw once said, “If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always be assured of Paul's vote.”)

1 comment:

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