Iran’s Peculiar Election: What Should “We” Do Now?

Issue Date October 2005
Volume 16
Issue 4
Page Numbers 64-73
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The recent presidential elections in Iran are noteworthy for several reasons. To begin with, the integrity of the voting is gravely in doubt. Indeed, the conduct of these elections was the most suspect ever in the troubled quarter-century history of voting in the Islamic Republic. There was cheating in both the first and second rounds, and this came on top of the deeper structural problems that afflict all elections under the Islamic Republic, including the unelected Guardian Council’s power to bar candidates as well as the capacity for electoral interference of such armed regime forces as the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij militia. Neither the official turnout figures nor the official returns can be trusted. The regime has probably inflated the former through deliberate undercounting of the voting-age population. The returns, meanwhile, reflect the vanishing of millions of votes cast for some candidates, while other contenders—notably the eventual winner, former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad—had their totals padded with millions of fraudulent votes.

About the Author

Mohsen Sazegara, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, held several official posts in the Islamic Republic until his resignation in 1989. Barred by Iran’s unelected Guardian Council from running for the presidency in 2001, and then jailed for a time in 2003, he has been campaigning for a free referendum through which Iranians can choose a new constitution.

View all work by Mohsen Sazegara