Mao suits to fade away

17 June 2005

Despite all the early polls indicating a Rafsanjani win there are some very strong signs especially in blogosphere that Moeen the reformist candidate may end up as the winner.

As you know Presidential candidates are all trying to induce cynical voters to go to the polls on Friday and are struggling hard to appeal to young voters.

Rafsanjani as chairman of the powerful Expediency Council has been the centre of political gravity of the regime for quarter of century. Appealing to the youth vote during a nationally televised "campaign broadcast":http://news.corporate.findlaw.com/ap/e/53/06-11-2005/3e0300310574c301.html created by one of Iran’s leading commercial filmmakers, he even sheds a tear when a young girl complained of restrictions in the Islamic republic. It reminds me of the time the ousted monarch (months before he was forced to leave Iran) came on television and shed a tear, saying “I have heard the sound of your revolution”. Many people since have said that was the beginning of the end.

According to many "bloggers":http://news.corporate.findlaw.com/ap/e/53/06-11-2005/3e0300310574c301.html the moneyed Hashemi Rafsanjani campaign machine has flooded towns with posters and bumper stickers.

While other "bloggers":http://z8un.com/archives/2005_06.html#000544 report of drivers being paid to simply “drive around town displaying Hashemi posters.” Promoting his campaign are the "sort of young people":http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=192535 who would certainly have got arrested for their attire during his administration.

It may seem at odds to some that while Rafsanjani cultivates the appearance of support around town through young modern Iranians, he still has the patronage of the majority of the Iran’s hardliners.

He has recently received a declared endorsement (10 June 2005) from Iran’s powerful and aptly named “Militant Clergy Association” and the majority of hardline Parliamentarians have also issued a signed statement (6 June 2005) backing him. Leading hardliners have in recent years openly affirmed that Iran should pursue a ‘Chinese model’ of governance. This would mean less social restrictions, liberalizing the economy and making peace with Europe and the United States – while maintaining political repression.

After all Mao suits did painlessly fade away for Red China’s oligarchy.

But Rafsanjani is unlikely to win more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round of the election, which means that a second round will be held between the two top contenders on the following Friday. According to recent polls a run-off contest seems "more and more likely":http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0613/p09s01-coop.html between Rafsanjani and reformist Mostafa Moeen who seems to be gaining ground.

Disappointments with reformists in recent elections and low turnout have brought the Tehran city council and parliament into fundamentalist hands. So faced with the prospect of Rafsanjani as president some budding abstainers may reconsider.

I don’t know how this might translate across the population but so many popular bloggers, who have been advocating a boycott, now talk about voting and there has also been a sudden surge of support in Iranian blogosphere for Moeen.

Blogger "Peakovsky":http://www.peakovsky.com/ : bq. says that a boycott will diminish them [the regime]? In the municipal elections we had a 12% turnout. Ahmadinejad was elected by 2% of the electorate of Tehran. But not only is he not bothered by the question of legitimacy, he has decided to stand as president... As if we are dealing with learned democrats and if we decline to vote they will shudder. The people’s votes are decorative to them. After all they claim that their legitimacy rests on divine sovereignty”

Moeen’s team have intensified their campaigning in recent days, travelling throughout Iran, yet Rafsanjani has not left his palatial compound. While even banned liberal political activists such as Ezzatollah Sahabi and Ibrahim Yazdi have been on the campaign trail on behalf of the reformist candidate. Yazdi is head of the Iran Freedom Movement (IFM) founded by the late Mehdi Bazaragan, who was deputy Prime Minster to Dr Mossadegh in the 1950s. In 2001 about 40 of his elderly liberal colleagues were arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow the Islamic regime; Charges that are still outstanding.

Blogger "Taftestan":http://www.taftestan.blogspot.com/ :

bq. Let’s say that if we don’t vote the regime loses its legitimacy. What next? After all what is the loss of legitimacy of a regime? From our perspective this regime has long lost all legitimacy. If we are waiting for outsiders to help us, then we have lost our way. Didn’t we all today as we heard the bombs around town try to contact our loved ones and friends? I hope Habib or Faramarz, or Speideh or Reza were not near the explosions... Do we want Tehran to be Baghdad?

bq. I will vote for Moeen not for what he can do, but for what he wants to do. Voting for Moeen is just a step. It is just me pointing my finger at what I want. To get what we want is another story. A story that Khatami did not start, nor will Moeen bring it to a conclusion. Who but you or I will write this story?

By Nasrin Alavi

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