International Action Center, June 17, 2009
The first thing to make clear about the Iranian election is that the U.S. and other imperialist states have no right to intervene. The media here are now filled with moralizing, even racist scolding of Iran over the election results. Who are they to act so hoity-toity? Remember George W. Bush’s open theft of the 2000 election in Florida?
And then there are the self-righteous European imperialists. Only 43 percent of the people voted in the recent EU elections. Compared to that, Iran’s 82 percent vote makes it a vibrant capitalist democracy.
The second thing is that absolutely no evidence has been dredged up of significant electoral fraud. Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s 62.6 percent total is completely consistent with his 2005 vote total of 61.7 percent. It is also consistent with the only election poll taken. Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty polled a thousand Iranians and predicted a two-to-one win for Ahmadinejad. (Washington Post, June 15)
Given that the Iranian economy is continuing to grow, despite the world capitalist contraction, it’s reasonable that a majority would vote for the incumbent.
The vote breakdown by neighborhood, as provided by the official election authorities, is also consistent with political reality. Ahmadinejad lost in Teheran City, a bourgeois stronghold. He was weakest in the wealthier northern part of the capital. But he swept the rural areas and did well among the urban poor.
All the Iranian candidates—and here we will discuss just the president and his nearest rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi—are part of the Islamic Republic’s ruling circle of politicians. It would be surprising if any deviated far from generally acceptable politics in Iran. That means capitalist economic development and projecting Iranian power in the region. And maintaining some independence from the imperialists—not easy if your economy is integrated with the world capitalist market.
Ahmadinejad is closely identified with militant support for the mass-based resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon, and also with the determined public defense of Iran’s nuclear power program. With a high vote for him, the Iranians thumb their noses at the imperialists. This also explains the strong hostility from the U.S. ruling class.
In Iran, the reelected president is also considered a populist who will fight for economic concessions to Iran’s poor—which explains his strong popularity outside the middle-class and wealthy districts.
Mousavi was first seen as a reformer who might relax cultural and social restrictions and give more leeway to organize for rights. He got some support from women’s organizations, labor and even some progressive circles. By the end of the campaign, however, Mousavi was obviously allied with the power broker and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom Ahmadinejad defeated handily in the 2005 election.
All reports—even from anti-Ahmadinejad sources here—describe the Mousavi-Rafsanjani followers as the wealthier, college-educated Iranians who dwell in the cities.
Rafsanjani, who still holds a position of power in the regime, is identified with the wealthiest sector of Iranian society, with privatizing industries, with a more conciliatory approach to imperialism. Mousavi is now linked to him, and it’s their grouping that the imperialists either want to win or want to cause enough internal trouble to weaken the government. In the end, what the imperialists want is to reverse the Iranian revolution and get back control over its rich resources.
But 2009 is not 1953, when the CIA overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh and installed the Shah. The Iranian people have benefitted enormously from their revolution and cannot easily be turned back.