Shocked by the shock

14 July 2005

Everyone seems shocked, and yet no one really should be. We all knew that the Iranian electorate is highly unpredictable; we knew that Iranian polls due to cultural reasons can not be treated as polls made in countries in which a culture of democracy has rooted, and we knew--though we so often forget--that 15-25 per cent of the Iranian population back the conservatives. Much like the conservative movement in the US, the Iranian conservatives are better organized since they have traditional Iranian institutions and networks at their disposal. And like their counterparts in the US, they vote in higher numbers and they are more disciplined voters.

The question is what the conclusion of the rest of the population will be by next Friday. If they feel disempowered, i.e. if they believe that the elections are rigged and that their vote won’t count, Rafsanjani won’t be able to capitalize on the pro-reform electorate, which would benefit Ahmadinejad. If, however, they conclude that Ahmadinejad benefited from the pro-reform electorate’s partial boycott of the vote, they may react by turning out in greater numbers next Friday in order to avoid having all the country’s institutions fall into the hands of the conservatives.

Friends and family members that I have spoken to in Tehran are split between these two camps. The question is what they will feel a week from now. Much can change till then.

Can there be a green populist project on the Left?

Many on the Left want to return to a politics based on class, not populism. They point to Left populist parties not reaching their goals. But Chantal Mouffe argues that as the COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for protection from harm at the top of the agenda, a Left populist strategy is now more relevant than ever.

Is this an opportunity for a realignment around a green democratic transformation?

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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