Pre-cooked Elections

12 June 2005

Human Rights Watch published a report today citing significant flaws in Iran's electoral laws. Most significant of HRW's finding is that the Guardian Council only approved those candidates which were in some way or form associated with the ruling elite, or termed in Persian

 "khodi," or insiders. The news comes on the heels of a recent poll conducted by the Iranian Students Opinion Poll Center finding that only 45.5 to 51.4% of the electorate countrywide and 37.1 to 39.7% in Tehran will participate in the election. The low turnout rate ought to be advantageous to conservative and moderate political candidates such an Rafsanjani and Qalibaf, who subsequently lead in the polls as well.

 As Hossein himself has duly noted, the majority of those unlikely to vote are those who would generally vote for reformist candidate Moein. The most pertinent part of HRW's paper is its finding that Article 28 of the Parliamentary Election Law of 1995 which requires the candidate to demonstrate observance to Islam as well as express loyalty to the velayat faqih, and is generally used to vet out unfavorable candidates, are not requirements in Shi'a Islam accepted by most theologians and constituents.HRW's analysis is parter of a greater movement to enact political change in Iran, particularly electoral laws, by attacking the Islamic justifications that guard them. Because the precondition for denying or accepting candidates falls upon Islamic perspectives held by the elite, only by attacking that base will true reform take place. To that extent the nature of political reform in Iran is coterminous with Islamic reform in general.

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