Elections in Iran: A Tightrope Walk?

iran-elec.jpgVoters in Iran are due to go to the polls on Friday to choose a new Parliament. The outcome of this election is crucial for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, considering his fragile relations with the west. The election procedure of Iran involves The Majlis, or the Iranian Parliament, also known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly. The Majlis has 290 representatives, who are elected for a four year term in multi- and single-seat. Elections are held every 8 years, but, these elections are perceived as a threat to the west, due to the fundamentalist factor.” This is, I think, the worst election Iran has ever seen since the beginning of the Islamic Republic,” said Ali Nourizadeh, an Iranian journalist and political commentator based in London. He strongly feels that the rivalry that exists today is between the so-called fundamentalists: progressive fundamentalists and conservative fundamentalists. Both however, are the same. The West broadly believes that the election process is not at all democratic and its tampering starts from the Guardian council itself. .The council consists mainly of Islamic clerics and they disapprove of the reformists. One camp, known as the United Front, includes candidates allied with the president, while the other, called the Broad or Inclusive Coalition, includes some of his more pragmatic conservative rivals, including former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. The campaign was totally ignoring the issue of inflation, the Iran nuclear deal debate, the country’s relation with Iraq amongst others, focusing its attention to local issues including pollution. For many analysts, these elections are a referendum to gain approval for Ahmadinejad’s years in power. And, since the people of Iran largely agree with his Anti-American view, he will emerge victorious in these elections. On the other hand, the elections in Iran are associated with national pride and the Islamic system. According to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, those who claim to uphold democracy are blatantly opposing democratic ideals, and hence, elections in Iran, as they are aware of the fact that democracy in Iran will lead to its progress. This is a clear reference to the west, and in particular, America. These elections are no less than a tug of war between the west and Iran. It heightens expectations for the local population in the form of reforms in the economy, considering the high rate of inflation, i.e. 17%. Although national pride and Islamic ideals are important, Iran must not forget about other pressing issues, not only pertaining to the West, but also the sphere of its relations with the Middle East and Iraq. One can only hope for the best.

Anupriya Prakash

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snorkel/16980826/]