Making sense of the Iranian elections

In OpenDemocracy, Fred Halliday offers this:

“The conservative victory signals two things. First, there are very real policy differences within the Islamic leadership. Second, Ahmadinejad’s triumph highlights a vital underlying factor in the formation of Iran’s revolutionary regime: that the state, its ideology and its mentality were forged not in the years of Islamist struggle against the Shah (1963-1978), nor during the course of the revolution itself (1978-1979), but in the much more brutal and costly war with Iraq (1980-1988).

This was the second longest inter-state war of the 20th century, one in which as many as 750,000 Iranian soldiers died. The institutions created during that war – the pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards), the basiji (Mobilisation) and the intelligence services – are at the core of the Islamic Republic, not the clergy, the revolution’s political leaders, or the regular army. It is significant that most of the eight-to-ten key people around Khamenei owe their prominence to this conflict. . .

In a broader perspective, the election outcome shows how much Iran – far from being an anomaly in modern politics – reflects general trends in the contemporary world.”

Ardashir Tehrani offers another view.

“This was a coup d’état led by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was foreseeable as soon as it became known that between 66 and 70 of the new members of the majlis (parliament) elected in February 2004 were members of the Revolutionary Guards militia – enough to give these forces, and the ruling elite, control of the institution. . .

General Firouzabadi, head of the joint chiefs of staff, issued an order that all militia forces vote for Ahmadinejad. Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, a real hardliner, had issued a fatwa urging everyone to do their “sharia duty” and vote for Ahmadinejad. There was also a rumour that every basiji (pro-regime vigilante) was told to recruit ten ordinary citizens to cast a vote for Ahmadinejad.

Why the need for a coup d’état? “

Also read the takes of a number of Iranian democrats.