June 24, 2005


PARIS, 24 June (IPS) As Iranians went to the polls in their most unprecedented elections, having to choose between the “pragmatist”, millionaire cleric and the “fundamentalist”, son of an ironsmith, some pundits said regardless of who becomes Iran’s next President, democratization process would be the ultimate winner, some political pundits speculated If the logic of arithmetic prevails, former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani must be able to recuperate the not much glorious and powerful seat of the presidency in a political system were all powers are concentrated in the hands of the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i.

The calculus is in fact very simple: With four of the candidates out of the five who got out of the race in the first round having officially announced their backing for the Chairman of the Expediency Council, meaning some 15 million votes in plus of the 6 millions he received, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani is credited with a large majority over his rival, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, who is assured of the 1.5 million votes garnered by Mr. Ali Larijani.

But as seen from the first round of the match, the leader-controlled Council of the Guardians that has the ultimate voice on election’s results in the Islamic Republic might reserve Iranians and the world at large with another surprise, bringing the 49 years-old Mayor of Tehran, considered as the “protégé” of Mr. Khameneh’i, out of its sleeves, proclaiming him as the final winner.

Also, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, described as a downtrodden, simple and son of the hard working class could get some of the votes of poor people who, in rural area, voted for Mr. Karroubi on his promise of handing 50 US Dollars per month to every needy person.

But analysts says not only it would be “very difficult” for the CG and the military to manipulate votes in favour of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, “due to the vigilance of pro-Rafsanjani observers that would be present in all voting places and watch carefully the voting process, they also warns against “chaos” and possible civil clashes in case there is “massive rigging” of the votes.

“Hashemi Rafsanjani is not an easy man. He would certainly not tolerate manipulations from the CG and would stand to the Guardians”, one observer said.

The bold accusations of rigging, manipulations, intervention of the militaries and militias and particularly from the very person of Mr. Khameneh’i as well as some members of his family and office has encouraged some dissidents to openly question the position, powers and mandate of both the leader and Council of the Guardians.


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