Ahmadinejad wins Iran’s Presidential election

IRNA is reporting that primary results from today’s presidential election show incumbent President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has won in an apparent landslide.

<blockquote>According to the head of Elections Headquarters Kamran Daneshjoo, Ahmadinejad has recieved 69.04 percent of the counted votes until 23:50 hours local time.
Daneshjoo said Mir Hossein Mossavi has got 28.42 percent, Mohsen Rezaee 1.62 percent and Mehdi Karrobi 0.9 percent of the votes.</blockquote>

The official announcement is expected tomorrow. More on this later.

<b>Update IV</b> Protests continue today. Ahmadinejad has dismissed the protests as “not important.” Mousavi has publicly declared the election’s void and encouraged his followers to continue their protests. Reformist party organizers (including the briother of former President Mohammad Khatami) have been detained and some foriegn journalists have been told to leave Iran. Not much from the White House which seems to be taking a wait and see approach. The EU, having apparently lived in a cave for the last eight years, has expressed concern but hopes:<blockquote>the outcome of the elections will ease tensions between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program.</blockquote>

<b>Update III</b> Iran’s techno-black out has reached cell phones, which are reported to read “Emergency only.”

<b>Update II</b> Via Andrew Sullivan, according to a report from the Tehran Bureau, a spokesman from the Mousavi campaign points not to the Supreme Leader as the benefactor of election fraud, rather suggests the military staged a “coup” of sorts:

<blockquote>In an interview, Mr. Mohsen Makhbalbaf, the distinguish movie director and spokesman for Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, has declared that there has been a coup in Iran whereby the elections have been rigged, and people’s vote have been altered on a vast scale, in order to declare President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the “victor.”

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, in the early hours after voting had ended, the Interior Ministry had called Mr. Mousavi’s campaign headquarters to inform them that Mr. Mousavi would be the winner and, therefore, Mr. Mousavi must prepare a victory statement. Mr. Mousavi was, however, asked by the Ministry not to boast too much, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Many of the president’s supporters are among the ranks of the Basij militia, and thus armed.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was also informed of the developments. He also recommended a “good management” of the victory statement, meaning not boasting greatly about the victory, because that would be in Iran’s national interests and stability.

At the same time, the reformist newspapers were also informed that they can prepare their Saturday edition to declare Mr. Mousavi the winner, but were not allowed to use the word pirouzi (victory) in their articles, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. One reformist newspaper prepared its front page with the title, “People took back the flag of their country [from Mr. Ahmadinejad].”

But, just a few hours later, a center that had been set up by Mr. Mousavi in Gheytarieh (in northern Tehran) for monitoring the election and vote counting, was attacked by armed security agents. They ransacked the center, destroyed computers, and attacked the staff. Supporters of Mr. Mousavi intervened and arrested 8 security agents. The police was called to take them to prison, but the police released the attackers.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the central headquaters of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign was also surrounded by security forces, as was the Interior Ministry building. Then, new data began to be released by the Ministry, indicating that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the elections decisively.</blockquote>


As noted in the commentary the reaction to what is largely believed to be a fraudulent election has been tumultuous as supporters of “defeated” reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi have taken to the streets of Tehran in protest:

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Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei has essentially approved the election results:

<blockquote>The participation of over 80 percent of Iranians at the polls …. is a cause for true celebration and God willing this will ensure the continuation of the country’s progress and the maintenance of national security,

The spirit of calm presented by the nation, in the face of enemy propaganda and the nation’s mass participation was such that makes it indescribable in words.</blockquote>

This indicates any requests for appeal from Mousavi and his followers are likely to fall on deaf ears.

Internet service in Iran remains interrupted (obvious measure to limit outrage) and I’m reading rumors that Mir Hossein Mousavi has been placed under house arrest.

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17 Responses to Ahmadinejad wins Iran’s Presidential election

  1. TS says:

    This is not over yet, and it’s gonna get ugly:
    Iran’s Ahmadinejad, rival both claim election win

  2. Alfred Russel Wallace says:

    How can they be so efficient, and we’re still waiting for Minnesota?

  3. Bill Petti says:

    Well, if the state news agency is reporting it I am sure it’s true :) I wonder if anyone has attempted to estimate the amount of voter fraud in favor of incumbents in elections such as this. Thinking a Nate Silver-type…

  4. Curzon says:

    Riots in Tehran… the opposition has definitely not given up…

  5. Rommel says:

    It is tempting – maybe just as someone who is far from knowledgeable about Iranian politics – to see the entire affair as a charade.
    - The clerics bring an old politician (Mousavi) out of politics to run against their tool.
    - His campaign gives the youth/opposition false hope and a vent to their frustration
    - The election results are rigged to give the desired result (landslide for the Tool)
    - Opposition is angry and tense for a short time but this gives way to disillusionment and resignation to the fact that nothing has really changed nor will it ever as long as the clerical elite and Rev Guard maintain their monopoly on power

    As long as Khameni is king, it is foolish to think anything will ever change regarding Iranian policy. The man is 69 and I’ve yet to meet a man older then 50 who has not made up his mind on where he stands regarding, well.. anything.

  6. Rommel says:

    *should read out of retirement, not politics

  7. Carl says:

    You’d think that if Iran was going to throw an election they wouldn’t be so obvious about it. After the last week of intense int’l coverage and reports of Mousavi gaining (or leading) in polls, one would have assumed they’d make it a bit more close. A 69% victory is absurd and damages the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of the world. I know that Khameni isn’t usually swayed by anybody’s opinion, but his own, however this looks to me like lazy electioneering. Had it ended up 55/45 or even 60/40 the status quo would have remained and Mousavi voters might have fallen for it. Instead, Iran is now left with a very angry urban youth population. Similar in a few ways to what was going on there 30 or so years ago….

  8. Carl, indeed you’d think that if they were going to throw the election they’d do it a bit less conspicuously.

    Rommel, interesting and not all that unlikely a theory. Agree that as long as there remains a Supreme Leader, Iran’s policies are unlikely to change. However, a reformist like Mousavi (despite being pro-nuke) would tone down the nutty proclaimations of Ahmadinejad and take some heat of Israeli leadership to act in a pre-emptive measure against Iran’s nuke sites.

  9. Gollios says:

    At the very least this will provide a counter-narrative next time Kermit Roosevelt’s overthrow of Mossadegh is brought up.

  10. feeblemind says:

    I am confused about the whole election. I have always been led to believe that all candidates were pre-approved by Khameini. So why would Mousavi be an unsatisfactory winner to the ruling mullahs? Or did they pick Mousavi because they ‘knew’ he would lose? I am wondering if there is more here than meets the eye? Does Ahmadinejad control the revolutionary guards to the point where he could have orchestrated this? Is he the real power now and not the mullahs?? Lots of questions. I guess it is all too complex for my feeble mind to comprehend.

  11. feeblemind, political candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council consists of a 12 man “jury” half of which are appointed by the Supreme Leader, the other half are selected via vote by the Majlis (parliament.) However, the six that are picked by the Majlis are selected from a group approved by the Judiciary power which is appointed by the Supreme Leader. I’d speculate that Mousavi passed muster because while he’s a reformist now, he was also the Prime Minister during the rule of Khomeni, a time in which political dissent could get one killed. Additionally, the SL and the GC don’t seem to be completely tone deaf to their countries demographics (70% under the age of 30 IIRC) and the pro-western mood found in the countries upper-class/students. Not to mention the image abroad had they only allowed conservative candidates to run. I’m very curious as to who initiated the apparent fraud. Your speculation regarding the IRG and a possible shift in power away from the theocracy and toward the military is certainly food for thought.

  12. feeblemind says:

    In case you missed it, the WSJ has an opinion piece this a.m. by Amir Tehari titled ‘Iran’s Clarifying Election’. There is a line in the piece which says, ‘Many in Iran, including leading clerics, see the exercise as a putsch by the military-security organs that back Ahmadinejad.’ That doesn’t make it so but it is an interesting read.

  13. Aceface says:

    What amused me is the name “Mohsen Makhbalbaf”appeared as thespokes person for Mousavi.
    We just had another Iranian film director Ghobadi Bahman being fiancee to Roxana Saberimthe imprisoned Iranian American journalist who has recently being released.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahman_Ghobadi
    Two celebrated figures in Iranian cinema showed up in international news in regard with politics.

  14. mkvf says:

    Not sure if this is a correction or a query about transliteration…

    Isn’t it spelled Makhmalbaf, not Makhbalbaf? His name (and the rest of his illustrious film-making family’s names) are always spelled with an ‘m’ here in the UK, but I can find plenty of references to the spelling you’ve used on Google: although, they look, at a glance, as if they could all be traced to the same initial error. On the other hand, I can sort of see how there could be a sound in Farsi that could be transcribed in English as somewhere between an ‘m’ and a ‘b’.

    On the broader point, one of the apparently reliable Iranian twitterers has now said that the Majlis Khobregan (assembly of experts) is meeting, potentially to replace Khamanei.

    If that happens, who would replace him? A lot of people have held up Montazeri as a standard bearer for improved human rights, given his stand against Khomeini’s mass murder and arbitrary executions. He’s not, though, any more of a Western secularist than any other politician (or political cleric) in Iran, and had a heavy part to play in writing its thoecratic constitution in the first place.

    Who else is eligible? AFAIK, only marjas (grand ayatollahs) , and not all of them accept the idea of a supreme leader (and a lot of them aren’t Iranian). There’s a list of current marjas here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_marjas#Current Does anyone here have any idea how any of them would differ in their rule from Khamanei?

    The protests today don’t seem to be aimed at overthrowing Iran’s entire political system: the chance that they may do so by accident is slim, and Iran isn’t going to become Poland any time soon. If Khamanei’s insistence on supporting Ahmadinejad mean he is deposed, that may be a good thing for some aspects of the Iranian people’s human rights.

    On the other hand, by pushing Ahmadinejad and the security forces closer together, the election and subsequent protests may mean that Iran effectively becomes a military dictatorship, losing all pretense of democracy and using religious authority only as a mask.

  15. MKVF, wow, I’d known that the GC was to be taking a second look at the election results but hadn’t heard the AoE was meeting to consider removing Khameni. While I won’t doubt the veracity of the report I do wonder how such a thing could possibly favor the clergy leadership. As you mention, such an unprecedented undertaking might well prove to realize their own greatest fears, a shift in power away from the central authority to the military/presidency. Perhaps they’re meeting to discuss the possibility overseeing a Guardian Council order for an election runoff of sorts?

    IIRC, Montezeri was originally given the nod by Khomeni to be his successor but then sequestered to house arrest for after doing a political 180, comparing Khomeni and his murder spree to that of the Shah and his SAVAK. I’m not sure how well that bit of history (assuming I have it straight) sits with the current Assembly. He would seem to jive fairly well with Mousavi who, contrary to what I would imagine to be most of his Western benefactors image of him, is not going to be the Persian darling of secular, Western, liberal democracy should he replace Ahmadinejad. Fair minded, left leaning by Iranian standards but fully indentifies with the Islamic Republic.

  16. mkvf says:

    To be clear, I’m basing most of what I’m saying on one well reported twitter account, that seems to be linked to the Mousavi campaign (but not named for him). The only reason I’m not naming it is that they’ve asked for people not to, with pretty obvious justification.

    The only information I had then is the bare statement that the AoE was meeting, at Rafsanjani’s request. As their role is sort of supervising the supreme leader, and as Rafsanjani seems to really hate him, I’m drawing the conclusion that Khamanei’s position is being questioned.

    The same source reports now that Friday’s March will be to prayers, and (separately) that Khamenei will be leading prayers. I guess that means in the same place. For a moment, I feel a little sympathy for him: I know I get freaked out delivering a five-minute intro to a hundred or so conference delegates, so I can’t imagine what it must feel like to speak in front of a million people when your entire regime depends on what you say. There’s real potential for a Ciaocescu (sp?) moment.

    I think your account of Montazeri’s split with Khomeini is essentially accurate. I’m with you on not being sure what it means for his standing amongst the rest of the clerics: certainly I’ve read that he’s ‘the most respected’ ayatollah, but I’m really not qualified to judge if that’s true or not. Certainly, Khamanei’s career is an indication that you don’t need to be well-respected as a scholar to become supreme leader, so maybe it’s equally true that scholarly respect doesn’t necessarily give you political power.

    I’m going to wander off into the realm of unsubstantiated theorising here, but I think that one useful way to look at Iranian history over the last century is to see three different forces at play: the state (and army), the clerics, and the people’s movements (whether that’s constitutionalism, communism or democrats). It’s the shifting balances and alignments between them that seem to matter.

    The 1905 constitutional revolution succeeded when the people and the clergy acted together. Reza Shah was able to establish a military state when the other forces in the country were in disarray.

    Mossadegh was able to stand up to the British only while he had the support of both clerics and the Tudeh communists; when that united front fell apart, Mohammed Shah was able to impose another militaristic dictatorship.

    In the 70s, Khomeini was able to bridge popularism and clericalism again, and the Iraqi invasion united all three forces around him. What we’re seeing now is the failure of Khomeini’s attempt to set a permanent, stable, balance between those forces.

    The split in Qom seems to be between pro-state clerics like Khamanei, and more popularist clerics like Rafsanjani*, Khatami and Moussavi. His election to head the AoE in 2007 seems to me to be a sign that the tide of clerical opinion is moving away from raw state power and towards popularism.

    I hope that means that when Khamenei makes his move later this week (if the report I mentioned is true), he sees the writing on the wall, abandons Ahmadinejad and sides with the people. If not, and if the uprising keeps its momentum, there’s going to be a lot of ugly infighting, both at Qom, and potentially within and between the army and the other armed groups.

    *Rafsanjani, with his background in all three camps probably symbolises this fine balancing act better than anyone. Whether his alignment to popularism is one of ideology/theology, or his own corrupt economic interest, or a mix of the two, is an interesting quesiton.