Sham elections for a new form of totalitarian rule

The upcomming election in Iran has nothing to do with democracy. It is nothing more than a ceremonial event held by, and for the benefit of, a third form of totalitarian rule

Iran is due to hold a presidential election in June
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh
On 3 March 2013 18:13

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidential tenure ends in June and there is now a power struggle between Islamist factions over his succession. The presidential elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran are held every four years and will this year be held on June 14th.

Of course, such elections have only a nominal role to play. Iranians are not allowed to nominate their own candidates for the elections; they are only allowed to vote for various Islamist candidates, who are approved and nominated by the totalitarian institution of the Guardian Council. Nevertheless, there are inner-Islamist power struggles.

These have escalated so far that ‘Supreme Leader’ Ali Khamenei had to intervene publicly on February 16th. He reprimanded all the disputing groups, stressing that even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had violated religious law. Actually Ahmadinejad had criticized Ali Larijani’s brother during a session of Islamic pseudo-parliament, Majlis, for corruption accusations. Ali Larijani is chairman of Majless.

Demonstrators had yelled and cursed during a speech of Ali Larijani in Ghom. There were reports that these protesters were from Ahmadinejad’s camp. But, referring to the protesters, Khamenei urged that they should fight against the “true enemies”, not against Larijani.

Despite Khamenei’s mediation attempts, conflict remains. The Islamist groups are divided into two camps: "principlists" and "reform Islamists".

The principlists are fractured again into three main groups. The first group consists of the "Society of Combatant Clergy" (Jameye Rohaniat Mobarez), the "Society of Teachers of the Scientific Circle in Qom" (Jameye Modaressin Hoseye Elmiye Qom) and the "Front of the Followers of Imam’s and Leader’s Line"(Jebeheye Peyrawane Khate Imam wa Rahbari).

These organizations do not always line up joint candidates. They seldom reach a common agreement, but at least some of them voted in the previous presidential election for Ahmadinejad. Actually, their focus is state clergy. Among these organizations, favourites for the presidential role, which they call "right traditionalists”, include the likes of Ali Akbar Velayati, Manouchehr Mottaki, and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi.

The second group calls itself the "Unity of Sponsors of Change and Constancy" (Etehade Tahawolkhahwa Paydari). But it dosn’t want democratic change, only more Sharia-State. This group first belonged to the allies of Ahmadinejad, but now acts independently. Ayatollah Masbah Yazdi, who initially supported Ahmadinejad, is the group’s most important mentor, and was a commander of the murder orders against writers and politicians in the late nineties.

Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel (former speaker of the Majlis), Saeed Jalili, (former deputy minister of foreign affairs), Kamran Bagheri Lankarani (former health minister) and Parviz Fattah (former energy minister) are among the most important leaders of this group. Many young clerics and students support them.

The politicians who are counted within this group are often active in various organizations. Haddad-Adel, a fanatical enemy of the Baha'i, is a member of the "United Front" among the principlists.

The supporters of Ahmadinejad's government belong to the third principlist faction. Seyyed Hassan Mousavi and Ali Akbar Salehi are among its candidates. The "Bountiful" (Jamiate Issargaran) provides a reservoir for the supporters of Ahmadinejad. But even here there is increasing opposition to the incumbent president.

The favorite candidate of Ahmadinejad is his close friend and former deputy Esfandiar Rahim Mashai. It is likely he will be disqualified. The chairman of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, had said, even if he should die before the presidential election, his soul would still prevent the election of Mashai. Other ministers from the Cabinet of Ahmadinejad, such as government spokesman Gholam-Hussein Elham and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, are left hoping that they will be accepted and qualified by the Guardian Council.

But even among the "reform Islamists" there is little unity. This second main group is divided into moderates and radicals. Behzad Nabavi and Saeed Hajjarian are prominent members of the latter grouping but the presidential candidate of this group is likely Kamal Kharazi.

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