Monday, June 15, 2009

The Stench From Teheran

The protests in Iran are not quieting down. Far from fading away like a bad hangover, the feeling among many that the election was stolen persists and spreads.

Is Iran's opposition nothing more than a bunch of hot headed sore losers? Is the Revolutionary Guards and other sections of the armed forces simply enforcing lawful authority?

A number of factors seem to validate suspicions of wrongdoing.

Forty million people cast ballots. They were paper ballots, many cast in rural areas. How were they counted and certified within a few hours?

Iran is not a monolith. It has regions with different ethnic groups and political allegiances. Even in cities there are Ahmadinejad strongholds and Bastions of support for Mousawi. Anyone who has pored over a political map of America with its red states and blue states has some idea of political diversity within Iran.

Why were the election returns across Iran consistent in their percentages of support for Ahmadinejad? The absurdity of this is along the lines of saying with a straight face that Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant went 67% for John McCain, with identical percentages in Idaho and Texas. My neighbours would be out in the street too if someone tried to pull a scam like that.

Detailed precinct by precinct data has not been forthcoming. Many ballot boxes lack accompanying paperwork which would validate the contents of accompanying ballot boxes. Mousawi's poll watchers claim that ten million ballots are improperly validated.

Each polling station was supposed to have observers from both parties. In some stations, Mousawi's observers were ejected.

Iran does not have an independent system of oversight of its electoral process. Interested parties are policing themselves. Significant sectors of the population have lost faith in this process.

Reports from Iran resemble the groundswell of mass demonstrations that swept the Shah from power in 1979. Iran has never had a democratic system to reflect and express the will of the people. In the absence of this, the will of the people bursts forth in tumultuous, imperfect and sometimes destructive ways. Stealing votes in a dictatorship involves ripping the duct tape off a voter's mouth long enough to stuff words into it. Those who attempt such a dangerous game run the risk of inflaming an indignant populace. This seems to be precisely what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done. He does so at his own peril. Sphere: Related Content

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