Saturday, June 15, 2013

Least Worst Candidate Wins Iran's Presidential Election

The Wall Street Journal news alert proclaims that a “moderate” has won today’s  Presidential election in Iran:
“Hassan Rohani, the candidate backed by the opposition and reformist political factions, was declared the winner in Iran’s presidential vote, giving a decisive victory to Iranians calling for change. Iran’s interior minister said Mr. Rohani had received more than 50% of the more than 36 million votes cast in Friday’s election. Mr. Rohani was the lone moderate candidate in a race that once appeared solidly in the hands of Tehran’s ruling clerics.”

Rohani replaces  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served in this position since the 2005 election. His disputed reelection in 2009 sent millions of young Iranians to the streets in protest. Rohani is indeed “moderate” in the sense that he cannot be worse than his predecessor, reputedly one of the militants who held U.S. diplomats hostage during the Carter presidency.

Rohani is Iran’s second moderate/reformist president.  Iran’s fifth president, Mohammad Khatami, a so-called reformist, captured 70 percent of the vote in 1997 and raised expectations of a democratic revival. During his two terms, Khatami advocated free speech, tolerance, civil society, and normal diplomatic relations. His presidency ended in frustration and disappointment. Khatami, Iranians discovered to their disappointment, did not have the power to institute any reformist agenda.

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  1. Good assessment.

    A couple of items that might be worth nothing: 1) The Iranian President Elect, Hassan Fridon (Rouhani), changed his Persian last name (Fridon) to an Arabic name sometime ago--- from Fridon to 'Rouhani', which means 'cleric'.

    2) He appears to have a masters and PhD in law (latter was received in 1999) from the old Glasgow Polytechnic, which is now the Glasgow Caledonian University. Another claim is that, in addition to Persian, he is fluent in fluent in English, German, French, Russian and Arabic. If true, then he can directly read, listen, and talk to the press and leaders without being as confusing as Ahmadinejad was during his tenure.

    3) One issue that deserves over-emphasizing to the nth degree is that, the Iranian Presidency is nothing more than a not too powerful position that a Prime Minister (or a Minister of Economy) would have. During the Shah's regime, the Prime Minister-ship was also a weak position. So, not expecting too much is the right conclusion.

    Unfortunately, 'the press' and 'interviewers' always approach the Iranian Presidency and his statements as if he has the same legitimacy, power and potential as that of a our own US President. The past shows that, the press made too much of Ahmadinejad's statements. If the past is an indication of the future, then this will happen again.

  2. Most best article!