Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Update

Well, as it stands, it is unlikely that the new Iranian president will be determined in the first round. But if that turns out to be the case, then who is likely to make it to the second round? It is a very though call. Until two days ago Rafsanjani was ahead of other contenders. However, 'unofficial' reports and polls suggest that other candidates have now come up by a number of points. Thus, Rafsanjani has no longer an absolute lead. Moeen, Larijani, and Ghalibaf all have hopes to make it to the second round. But will Karoubi, Mehralizadeh, or Ahmadi Nejad be able to pull off a victory in the first round too? They might have support among certain groups of people, which would have been remarkable if they were running for parliamentary elections. However, to win in a presidential election, they need much broader support than what they already have. Besides, another factor which makes it very hard to predict the election at this stage is the public turn out at the ballots. At the moment, it is estimated that between 45 to 55 percent of people will turn out to cast their votes. This rate is, of course, variable across the country. In Tehran, for instance, it drops down to somewhere between 15 to 25 per cent. But this also can change as we get closer to the election time.

In the meanwhile, Ayatollah Khamenei has addressed the people, 'inviting' them to participate in the election - which he called a 'divine affair'. Not surprisingly, he, once again, predicted that "on Friday, the Iranian nation will vote for the Islamic republic Constitution, and the unchangeable principles of the Constituion, as well as the Islamic values." No doubt that one of the "unchangeable principles" he had in mind was the one regarding his own position, nameley, the principle of "Velayat Faghigh" (loosely translated, the guardianship of a muslim leader). I read his words as suggesting that 'whomever the people vote for on Friday, they will be voting for me'. You might disagree with me by saying that he actually said that people would vote for the Constitution. But please read the statement again. It is not just tautology that he mentioned the "unchangeable principles" of the Constitution. There is an intention behind those words. Khamenei is in fact sending a clear message to those - i.e Moeen and his supporters - who have promised that they would prepare the context for a referendum or a law to limit or abolish Velayat Faghih and his (absolute) powers. Accordingly, he is warning that even if Moeen becomes the next president, he will have to understand that it was not him who people had voted for. Rather it will be Khamenei and the regime - as it is. And Khamenei means what he is saying. He meant it last time when Khatami won over 20 million votes to become presdient. He is not joking this time either. But will the next president of nation be up for the challenge to make it clear to Khamenei that the mechanism through which people vote for the constituion, and the principle of Velayat Faghigh, is called referendum and not presidential elecion?!

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