May 06, 2005

Non-British Election Blogging

Thanks praktike, for passing along this RFE/RL primer on the upcoming Iranian elections. Predicting anything in Iranian politics is always a mug's game, especially this early on, but in this case, the outcome looks sort of preordained, doesn't it? Rafsanjani it is?

Here's the way I figure it: Mustafa Moin, the leading reformist candidate, is probably going to be a non-factor, a victim of either low youth turn-out or else disqualification. (Though I seriously can't see the Guardian Council disqualifying Moin from running; he's not a threat to win and the mullahs don't need the outcry from abroad.)

Meanwhile, the right-wing vote looks like it will be split between Ali Larijani and Ali Velayati (right), since both of them seem intent on sinking the other's candidacy for some unknown reason. Most of the other conservative candidates will probably drop out under pressure, but Velayati seems set to play a Ralph Nader-esque maverick role and run no matter what happens (RFE/RL seems wrong about this; a spokesman recently insisted that Velayati was staying in even if Rafsanjani enters the race, though it's possible that het's bullshitting.) Meanwhile, the hardline Coordination Council has officially backed Larijani, though he's said he would drop out if the consensus favored another conservative. But at this point, it's possible that both men stay, in which case the true hardliners will vote for Larijani, while traditionalists will vote Velayati. (That's the word; interestingly, though, Velayati has made a serious play for the women's vote in recent weeks as well.) On foreign policy, I'd say that over the years Velayati has been the harder of hardliners, but they're both pretty aggressive, and neither seems like the sort of dude who would ever surrender the nukes.

Anyway, if that happens, it means former president Hashemi Rafsanjani's going to stroll in and win, despite the fact that influential conservative outlets like Kayhan are raking him over the coals of late. But oh well. Hm, I could be very wrong about how the jockeying among the right-wingers plays out, though, and they might well coalesce around a single candidate, so we'll have to wait and see. And Rafsanjani still hasn't officially declared his candidacy, so maybe he could throw a serious curveball, but I doubt it. The other two big wild cards here are what, if anything, Supreme Leader Ali Khamene'i does to clear the field, as well as the possibility that no one gets enough votes in the first round to win outright. That would mean a runoff—probably between Rafsanjani and Larijani, and then things could get... interesting.
-- Brad Plumer 5:47 AM || ||