Friday, March 2, 2012

Parliamentary elections in Iran: Khamenei against Ahmadinejad

 Iran's parliament, the majles,  in action.

 Iranians are going to the polls today, Friday 2 March, to elect a new parliament. Don't expect it to be a contest between conservatives and reformers. As the always knowledgeable Tehran Bureau puts it:

The leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, have been under severely restrictive, extralegal house arrest for over a year. They will remain there as long as they do not change their views -- which they will not -- or there is a national and international movement for their freedom.

The Tehran Bureau as well calls out the names of many other important reformists who are in jail and it says that also

the most popular and influential opposition groups have been outlawed or forced into silence. They include the reformists -- Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin (OIRM), and the National Trust Party -- groups allied with the reformists -- the Executives of Construction Party, which is close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; the leftist Association of Combatant Clerics (ACC) and Association of Teachers and Scholars of Qom; and the Nationalist-Religious Coalition -- the nationalist National Front, and several other small groups. Meanwhile, hardline political groups have proliferated like wild mushrooms, with no restrictions whatsoever on their activities.

The elections are nevertheless very important, because they are a contest between the supporters of the two most important leaders of the country of this moment, ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Tehran Bureau calls it a 'wrestling match':  

The confrontation between the supporters of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei has become very fierce. The rift between the two men has grown too deep to be closed. The results of the vote will have a deep effect on the confrontation and what will happen in the runup to the next presidential election, to be held in June 2013. 

But the ranks around Khamenei are far for closed. Parties fragmented into several pieces and factions split off:
 These divisions may well help the Ahmadinejad faction. The hardliners around Khamenei have been expressing fear that Ahmadinejad and his supporters will manipulate the vote through the Interior Ministry, which supervises the elections, and take control of the Majles. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is also worried about the Majles elections. It wants to control the parliament not only to rein in Ahmadinejad and impeach him if necessary, but also advance its own agenda. Several months ago, the Guard representatives in the Majles spoke about possibly eliminating the presidency entirely and reviving the post of prime minister, who would be selected by the Majles and not subject to direct popular vote. Last year, one Guard spokesmen, Brigadier General Salar Abnoush, said that there would be bloodshed if the result of the Majles elections turned out to be incompatible "with our values." 

For the whole article click here.  
And for a second part which goes more into details click here

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