June 25, 2005

Hardliner Wins In Iran

Iranians went to the polls for their presidential runoff election and chose hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who ran on the reform ticket. As an Iranian voter said:

"The people actually did test the reformists during the last eight years, but they didn't see much from them," said Rohollah Samimi, 23, as he prepared to vote for Ahmadinejad. "So people here decided to return to the people who are promoting revolutionary values and see if they can bring about change." ...

According to Xinhua, Ahmedinejad is the first non-cleric to win the presidency in Iran since the 1979 revolution. He's a war veteran and a transportation engineer liked for improving traffic in the crowded Iranian capital and improving the local economy.

Ahmedinejad won heavily by appealing to rural voters, and through promises to improve the national economy. Turnout for the runoff was 55% of voters, down slightly from the 63% turnout for the main election. Of the votes counted so far, Ahmedinejad has secured 61% of the total.

Rafsanjani has previously been involved in several corruption schemes, and was compared by some to the deposed Shah. He squeaked through the first round of voting as the least bad of the plausible candidates for the reform mantle, but it should perhaps not be surprising that an electorate disillusioned with the well-liked reformist Khatami wasn't interested in the dodgy Rafsanjani taking his place.

Accusations of vote fraud have been flying fast and furious, but it may be too soon to tell if there's any merit to the claims. Still, a 26% margin could only be accomplished by ostentatious fraud, and it seems likely that international election monitors would spot something in that case. This BBC story includes a picture of the vote counting process.

Posted by natasha at June 25, 2005 12:03 AM | International | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |