Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 05:34 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 05:34 | SYDNEY

Iran: What if the results were right?


Rodger Shanahan


16 June 2009 14:15

Unlikely I know, but even though it is becoming accepted wisdom that the Iranian presidential elections were rigged, this Washington Post op-ed argues that the results were consistent with at least one external opinion poll.

On the other hand, if the conduct of the elections are the responsibility of the Interior Ministry, and the Interior Minister is a former campaign manager for the incumbent President, then questions are likely to be asked. It is worth recalling the prescient words of a conservative Iranian parliamentarian after the appointment of Sadeq Mahsouli to the position of Interior Minister seven months ago: 'This choice is a choice for the election...By selecting him now as his interior minister, it is like forming an election headquarters before the election'.

As the BBC's Jim Muir points out in this rather good analysis, perception is now reality and the perception among many Iranians is that they were robbed of an electoral victory. But the Islamic Republic's core conservative leadership is still wedded to the fundamentals of the Iranian revolution and will not allow demonstrations to spiral out of control. With control of the security apparatus completely in their hands, the leadership will allow pro-reformist crowds to vent their frustration and anger but will maintain order.
Although pro-reform candidates (and their backer, former President Ali Akar Rafsanjani) will possibly continue to place pressure on the regime through demonstrations, it is difficult to see what, if any, concessions they will be able to win. The Supreme Leader's overwhelminging support for the election result leaves him little room for manoeuvre, other than to let the demonstrations run their course while allowing (ultimately futile) dialogue with the reformist camp through the Council of Guardians.

While the reformists have significant support, as demonstrated by Monday's demonstration, it is neither in the majority nor does it control the state's means of coercion. The security apparatus is firmly behind the regime and there is a great deal of support for Ahmedenijad among Iranians. While it is not in the state's interests to provoke any significant clashes with pro-reformist groups, they must nevertheless retain control and will most likely seek to do it through less confrontational means — up to and including the detention of key players.

While the situation in Iran has a deal to play out yet, it is unlikely that anything other than an Ahmedenijad presidency will result. The trick then will be how the West responds to the realities of Iranian politics.

Photo by Flickr user ManilaRyce, used under a Creative Commons license.