Sunday, June 14, 2009

Iran's Election

I can't pretend to have an insight into Iran's election just from having spent a couple of weeks in that nation. After all, people who have lived in India their entire lives are regularly surprised by results thrown up in national polls.
What I can say is that, if the reported margin of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory was achieved without rigging, it's an extremely depressing result. The world obviously shares this view, which might be the underlying cause for the media taking the idea of fraud seriously. There are, however, other reasons behind the suspicion that some jiggery-pokery went on behind the scenes.
1) Iran's population skews heavily toward urban areas and toward young voters. These constituencies were precisely the ones that appeared to be leaning toward Ahmadinejad's main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi.
2) As the election came closer, observers perceived a wave in urban areas in favour of the challenger. Could they have got it so completely wrong?
3) It is strange that the 2:1 margin that Ahmadinejad had over Mousavi remained more or less steady across the country. Iran may not be as diverse as India is, but it does contain numerous ethnic enclaves with their own preferences. Mousavi, an ethnic Azeri was expected to perform spectacularly in regions where that ethnic group forms the majority; instead he came a poor second to the incumbent.
4) There were no huge celebrations on the streets following Ahmadinejad's thumping triumph.

Presuming protests are quelled and things return to normal in Iran, we will have a situation where the status quo has been strengthened by elections in two west Asian countries. The outcome in Lebanon was good for the future of the middle east peace process, the one in Iran strongly negative. The way forward is now clear: an agreement has to be inked between Syria and Israel. It's the only deal that seems even faintly possible during President Obama's first term.


adrian mckinty said...

Girish old buddy I still think we're in something of an information vacuum at the moment and I dont think this is going to be played out in the next 24 hours or 48. By this weekend we'll have a clearer picture of what's happening. Hopefully.

Girish Shahane said...

I agree, Adrian; everyone outside Iran is hoping something dramatic does happen, but that looks pretty unlikely right now.