Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elections in Iran

So the election results are out in Iran and government sources report that Ahmadinejad won by a huge margin (62.6% to 33.8% for the first runner up in a field of four). Turnout was apparently high by Iranian standards (80% or so). I heard on CNN that the reformist challenger, Mousavi, even lost in his own home town, according to the official results, despite the high turnout. When the results were announced, Mousavi's supporters hit the streets and violent clashes with police resulted with around 100 people being reported to have been detained. I'm watching a press conference with Ahmadinejad on CNN as I type this and from his answers and the ridiculously soft questions from the Iranian press (which is being aggressively censored), I'd say this smells like a rigged election. It's worth noting that Iran does not allow outside election observers to watch the vote or vote count.

So what does this mean in light of our recent discussion about democratization in Iran? I would say that those who were expecting that Iran would soon be moving towards increased democratization would have to recognize this as at least a short term set back. Of course, it may provoke more demonstrations but given the ability of the Iranian police and military to crack down on demonstration, I doubt it will happen (but I wouldn't rule it out). Regardless of who would have won in an open and honest election, the Supreme Leader would continue to dominate legislation in Iran and the Supreme Leader was not standing for election.

UPDATE: Here are some interesting facts about Iran that may give some socio-economic context to these events...

Population: 66.4 million
Median Age in Iran: 27 (the median age in the US is 36.7)
Per capita GDP (controlled for purchasing power): $12,800 (in the USA it is $47,000)
Unemployment rate: 12.5%
Per Cent of GDP coming from agriculture: 25% (in USA it is 1.2%)
Inflation rate: 28%


The Law Talking Guy said...

By offering to rig the election for Ahmadinejad, he becomes much more indebted to the non-elected religious authorities. Mousavi would have been more independent of them. Kudos to the people of Iran for protesting this. We stood mute largely in 2000, when our presidential election was stolen.

Raised By Republicans said...

Rigging this election is evidence of a complicated situation. Certainly if the Supreme Leader and his appointees in the Guardian Council (which oversees elections I heard on CNN today) and the Defense Ministry bother to rig the election, the outcome must matter to them to some extent.

On the other hand, the fact the election can be rigged so easily suggests that the Supreme Leader and Guardian Council really do dominate the country's politics.

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR, you are right. Obviously it (1) mattered to the religious authorities who was president, but (2) they had the ability to rig the election anyway.

I think the protesting - including the rooftop shouting - we are seeing right now are indications of the kind of anti-clerical attitudes of many Iranians that the religious authorities were afraid of unleashing.

Spotted Handfish said...

One important thing to remember is that the median age hides where the largest demographic actually is. It is in the next five years when the current 15-19 year old people start voting or are not allowed to vote where things will get interesting.

Raised By Republicans said...

SH is right. It was not my intent to "hide" the 15-19 year old bulge in the demographics. But when you think about a low median age implies a big bulge below the median. That's because the minimum age is zero which is closer to the median than the average age at death - which even in a relatively poor country like Iran is over 70.

By the way, BBC news this morning is reporting that anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrations are continuing on the university campuses. There are reports that the government has tried to stop access to facebook, twitter and text messaging services. Of course, Ahmadinejad, does have a large constituency himself even if it's nothing like two thirds of the country and those people are demonstrating too.

BBC is also announcing that the Supreme Leader's Guardian Council will conduct an "investigation" of the election results. Unless the Supreme Leader thinks that the demonstrations are a real threat will that investigation do anything other than confirm Ahmadinejad's reelection.

Spotted Handfish said...

RbR, I know what you mean. I even tried Wolfram Alpha to try and get the mean age in Iran to compare but I couldn't get it to understand me. Must have been using Australian English...

It's really hard to talk about this without a sense of the vibe on the street, as it were. But you can't help but think that things are only going to get worse.

Raised By Republicans said...

The demonstrations against the results of these elections seem to be continuing. Iranian ex pats around the world are hitting the streets as well.

Meanwhile back in Tehran, some pro-government militia units have fired on crowds of demonstrators and killed at least one person and wounded several others.