Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fortifying power

Of the hundreds of people who submitted their candidacies for Iran's presidency, none of the women and none of those independent of the rulers will be on the ballot. Surprise? No.

The headline writer for The New York Times followed Thomas Erdbrink's opening contention, but I think his contention is hyperbolic. I'll bet this result surprised no one in Iran.

A Founder of the Revolution Is Barred From Office, Shocking Iranians
The decision on Tuesday to bar the presidential candidacy of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founding father of the revolution and a former president, shocked Iranians…

The exclusion of Mr. Rafsanjani and another thorn in the conservatives’ side, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, could foreshadow even greater repercussions, analysts and commentators said.

Since its founding in 1979, the Islamic republic has been characterized by opposing power centers competing constantly and often publicly…

Barring further surprises, the winner of the June election will now be drawn from a slate of conservative candidates in Iran’s ruling camp, a loose alliance of Shiite Muslim clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders. That would put the last major state institution under their control — the first time since the 1979 revolution that all state institutions were under the firm control of one faction.

Analysts have long speculated — and some conservative clerics have confirmed — that the ruling faction is determined to abolish the office of president, which has served as a locus of opposition…

At the very least, the anti-climactic election campaign seems likely to further reinforce the alienation of the urban classes, which make up a large portion of the electorate and mostly gave up on politics after the suppression of the 2009 uprising…

Mr. Rafsanjani’s disqualification appeared to mark the end of their aspiration to bring change through the ballot box rather than through street protests…

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