Opinion: Unpredictable outcome

7 June 2005

Politics in Iran has two characteristics: unpredictable and reactionary. Voters rarely reveal their decisions until the very last days. This is why opinion polls usually turn out to be wrong. We are entering the last 10 days of this contest. Everything could still change.

Three weeks ago, analysts outside Iran viewed former president Hashemi Rafsanjani as the front runner, and the only serious figure to watch in this election. Dr. Moeen was almost invisible in these analyses and even many insiders didn't take his candidacy seriously. All that has changed. In a matter of 5 days, the Guardian Council disqualified him, the Supreme Leader had him reinstated against his will, and President Khatami publicly encouraged him to re-enter the race. Moeen tactically delayed his acceptance. All this has positioned him as a major player.

Moeen is the only candidate who has announced that he will halt the uranium enrichment program if its political and economic costs are too high for Iranian national interests. He is also the only candidate who really represents the reform movement and values like human rights and democracy. He is quickly emerging as the only option for those among the middle class and pro-change population of Iran who still believe voting is the only way and don't view a "boycott" as an option.

How will all this unfold? Will Moeen and his supporters be able to rally millions of disappointed Iranians? It depends on how the reactionary characteristic of Iranian politics play into the hands of reformers. As Moeen himself has said the middle classes "boycotting" the election is a stronger rival than any other candidate.

By "Bahman Kalbasi":http://bahmankalbasi.blogspot.com

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