Christopher Hitchens in Slate:
The obvious evidence of fixing, fraud, and force to one side, there is another reason to doubt that an illiterate fundamentalist like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have increased even a state-sponsored plebiscite-type majority. Everywhere else in the Muslim world, in every election in the last two years, the tendency has been the other way. In Morocco in 2007, the much-ballyhooed Justice and Development Party wound up with 14 percent of the vote. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the predictions of increased market share for the pro-Sharia parties were likewise falsified. In Iraq this last January, the local elections penalized the clerical parties that had been making life a misery in cities like Basra. In neighboring Kuwait last month, the Islamist forces did poorly, and four women—including the striking figure of Rola Dashti, who refuses to wear any headgear—were elected to the 50-member parliament. Most important of all, perhaps, Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah was convincingly and unexpectedly defeated last week in Lebanon after an open and vigorous election, the results of which were not challenged by any party. And, from all I hear, if the Palestinians were to vote again this year—as they were at one point supposed to do—it would be highly improbable that Hamas would emerge the victor.
Yet somehow a senile and fanatical religious clique that has failed even to condition the vote in a country like Lebanon, where it has proxy and surrogate parties under arms, is able to reward itself by increasing its “majority” in a festeringly bankrupt state where it controls the media and enjoys a monopoly of violence. I think we should deny it any official recognition of this consolation. (I recommend a reading of “Neither Free Nor Fair: Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran” and other productions of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation. This shows that past penalties for not pleasing the Islamic Guardian Council have included more than mere disqualification and have extended to imprisonment and torture and death, sometimes in that order.