Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Analysis of Iranian election

AP Analysis: Iran president may help shield rulers
For a lesson in what Hasan Rowhani’s reformist-backed presidency could mean for Iran, a promise Sunday by the ultra-powerful Revolutionary Guard to cooperate with him is a good guide.

Like the rest of Iran’s ruling Islamic establishment, the Guard, which has kept a tight lid on any hints of opposition for years, is for the moment embracing Rowhani...

The reason is because — in one of the more curious twists of Iranian politics — the opposition’s accidental hero Rowhani also may become a lucky charm for the ruling system.

His surprise victory allows the Islamic leadership to seek a bit of legitimacy among liberals and others who felt they exiled off the political map after the crackdowns following massive protests in 2009...

Rowhani does have a people-power mandate that certainly will be factored in by Iran’s rulers. But the scope of his win — more than three times of votes of the runner-up — doesn’t give him any extra-credit powers. Iran’s presidency is still without the tools to take any major initiatives without clearance from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or, by extension, the Revolutionary Guard.

The ruling clerics — not the president — hold all the cards in policymaking...

Iran has been here before and it didn’t end well for reformists.

In 2001, reformist Mohammad Khatami steamrolled into his second term as president. The next four years were a stalemate as hard-liners allied with Khamenei blocked attempts at political reforms in parliament. Authorities gave up some ground on social freedoms — letting women’s head scarves slide back and permitting more Western films and music — but there also were pinpoint strikes on dissent with arrests and newspaper closures. The establishment eventually

Now, the Revolutionary Guard and its nationwide paramilitary force, the Basij, are far stronger and more deeply integrated into every level of society, including monitoring social media...

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