Four More Years?

Does it really matter who gets “elected” in June? I think not.


Four More Years?
by hossein.hosseini

When it comes to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there is no grey: you either like him or you don’t. His supporters point to his strong and often very vocal anti-West, anti-Israel stance, while his opponents complain about all the negative press he has created for Iran in the West as well as his policies that have nearly destroyed Iran’s economy.  Well, are you ready for four more years of Ahmadinejad? You might as well be, since indications are that in a two-man race this June he will be “elected” to run the country for another four years.

The first reason he will be elected is history. In the 30 years since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there have been five presidents prior to Ahmadinejad. No candidate has served only one term. Iran’s presidents were: Banisadr (impeached in 1981), Rajai (killed in 1981), Khamenei (1981 to 1989), Rafsanjani (1989 to 1997),  and Khatami (1997 to 2005).  The last three served two consecutive terms as allowed by the constitution. Those three alone account for 24 years of presidency in Iran.

The second reason is simply the economy or “it is the economy stupid!” as Bill Clinton used to say back in 1992 when he launched his first presidential campaign against Bush the Elder. Now fast forward to 2005 and the Iranian presidential election. An obscure former Mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad, wins a landslide victory (62%) over his well-known and powerful opponent, Hashemi Rafsanjani. The election results, which made a mockery of the pre-election polls and analysis, point to a fundamental issue at the heart of Iran’s future: that is, the average person in Iran, like any other country in the world, is tired of poverty, unemployment, inflation, corruption, and other ills.

Ahmadinejad, the man the West loves to hate, campaigned on a populist platform, blaming previous administrations for the increasing income-divide between the Tehran elite and the rural and urban poor. While he was written off by the opposition as another ‘agent’ of the regime, as a candidate, he promised to improve the lives of the poor and the lower classes by placing “oil income on people’s tables.” His campaign motto was “It is possible, and we can do it”  (maa mee tavaneem). Interesting how three years later another popular candidate in the U.S., Mr. Obama, used the same slogan; “Yes We Can!”

Understandably, Ahmadinejad’s message did resonate with the average Iranian in the street. He portrays himself as a simple man -- a portrayal the public obviously bought.  I remember asking a friend in Iran why he voted for him.  His answer was revealing.  He said the choice was between Shah va Geda (king and peasant). He said we have tried Rafsanjani (the King), let’s try the Geda (the peasant). You see, despite what many of us think here in the West, back home in Iran, people are more concerned about their economic well-being than say civil society, human rights, freedom of the press, etcetera.

Now, almost four years after his election, Ahmadinejad, while blamed for almost everything that has gone wrong with Iran, can still use the same arguments and have his supporters mobilize so as to secure his job. While he has not brought oil money to people’s tables, he has created many wealthy members in the ‘Sepaah’ and “Basij” communities. They are organized, they vote, and they have the power to get others to vote.

The third reason I predict that Ahmadinejad will be re-elected is this notion of big government and the ‘winner takes all’ attitude that have been the hallmark of each new administration in Iran since 1979. Here in America, when a new president is elected, the most change you see is a new cabinet and some high-level government figures, whereas in Iran, the new regime (everyone from ministers to governors and mayors down the line) are instantly replaced. The equivalent would be if, after Obama’s swearing-in, he went ahead and replaced all of the country’s governors, mayors, and local representatives and managers, as well as the heads of all the universities and colleges!

You can see how this practice is devastating to a country that relies on its government for everything. In fact, I will argue that whenever a new president is elected in Iran, it takes 12-18 months before all the posts are filled, refilled and the learning curve can start all over again. This phenomenon, as silly as it is, has created a new breed of power and wealth to a new segment of society. These are the people who will try as hard as they can to make sure Ahmadinejad stays in charge for another term. Their enormous power and wealth depend on it.

Does it really matter who gets “elected” in June?  I think not. Simply because the  biggest problem for Ahmadinejad or anyone else for that matter is that the Iranian economy, like most other oil-dependent economies, is government owned and controlled. The government is one of the biggest employers in Iran. It is involved in oil, gas, mining, construction, electricity, telecom, transportation and many other industries. In addition to the government, Iran also has these Bonyads (Charity Foundations), which by some estimates control over 30% of the economy but are neither taxed nor subject to government controls. They run everything from agriculture and hotels to soft drinks, auto-manufacturing and shipping.

In a government-owned economy the people are faced with such issues as red tape and inefficiency, corruption, subsidies, and bribery. Each problem has its own unique impact. Take corruption, for example, which is usually the result of three things: lack of transparency, lack of regulations, or too many regulations. Ironically, you’ll find all three conditions in Iran. For Ahmadinejad to succeed, he has to make a fundamental change in a system which he is neither capable nor authorized to really control. The economic mafia created within the past 20 years is now a government within the government.

So where do we go from here? I don’t know the answer.  I do know, however, that more and more Iranian people will demand an improvement in their standard of living, something that the current economic system is unable to deliver. Previous administrations in Iran from Rajaii and Rafsanjani to Khatami have tried to tweak the system in various ways to optimize it, without any success. It is like automating a bad business practice: you might make it run faster, but it is still bad business.

I remember back in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan used to ask, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Come this June, a new candidate in Iran is going to ask the voters in Iran that same question. Unfortunately, those who’ll say “no” are not the ones who actually decide the outcome of this election. Only the new, rich, and powerful breed created within the past four years can mobilize the masses to vote.


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I wish..

by Amir3124 (not verified) on

I wish to live long enough to see the day that less than 1% of Iranians have participated in the election. That day, the "Total Loss" is totally lost.


give credit when credit is due

by Hamed on

I just want to say this,I agree with the article and most of your comments but Ahmadinejad is the first leader that Iran ever had since Mossadegh who defied the West, did not succum to the western bullies. It makes me feel good, rightt or wrong I do not want to judge it. Lets give the man this one credit.


Ahmadinejad is irrelevant.

by Meehan (not verified) on

Ahmadinejad is irrelevant. The president does not run the country in Iran. He has no power to do so. It is khamenei the supreme leader and the rest of the terrorists that run the Islamic Republic.


فروپاشی نظام حقوقی- سياسی حاکم بر ايران

جمشيد طاهری‌پور (not verified)

در موازنه قدرت کنونی؛ "مکانيزم قدرت" رئيس جمهور تعيين می‌کند و نه رأی ملت! سياست ورزی قيم مآب که برای مردم "تکليف" تعيين می‌کند، دوران‌اش بسرآمده است. همانگونه که "رئيس جمهور احمدی نژاد" گام در "مسير فروپاشی" بود!

نتيجه "انتخابات" دهمين دوره رياست جمهوری هر چه باشد؛ گام ديگری در راه فروپاشی نظام حقوقی- سياسی حاکم بر ايران خواهد بود.



President Hussein Obama awaits the Results

by Davood_Banayan on

Americans for a Democratic Republic in Iran.

As President George W. Bush did, so too does President Hussein Obama await the results from the Iranian election.

It is high time that Iranians everywhere aid in direct talks with Washington.

Ayat'Allah Khamenei must meet US President Obama.

Once again free Iranian Oil must come to the U.S.

Free Iranian Oil came to the U.S. in both the Qajar dynasty and the Pahlavi dynasty. It must and will be the same in the future.

Let all Iranians everywhere bow there heads and give a big "Allah'u Akbar" chant. Since 99% of all Iranians follow the Mohammadan religion.



Mr. Kaveh Nouraee

by Abarmard on

I agree with what you say but not the in the context that you have chosen.

Kaveh Nouraee

It Matters That It Doesn't Matter

by Kaveh Nouraee on

Abarmard, the fact that this so-called election is nothing more than a pre-fabricated farce matters greatly. To be unaware of that is shameful. To ignore it is criminal.

Mr. Kashani, you are absolutely correct. And yes, unfixable is a valid word. In the auto insurance industry, if the damage is unfixable, it's declared a "total loss". Right now, with the mollahs in the driver's seat, Iran is essentially totalled.

Iranvaliazad, the IRI is not interested in gaining the population's confidence. They're only interested in provoking and exploiting their fears. The greater the fear, the longer they thrive.


Sadly agree with article.

by Ali in London (not verified) on

A well analyzed article. Despite my wish to the contrary, I am afraid we better get used to another 4 years of headline news by Ahmadinejad.

As to those who think it makes no difference who is the president, trust me it does. Just take a look at figures and compare for instance, inflation, unemployment, international sanctions and tensions etc during Khatami and Ahmadinejad periods. True, makes no difference if you are living in California, but for the average man/woman on the streets of Tehran, makes a hell of a lot of difference.


Agree with Abarmard but.....

by Lootee (not verified) on

How anyone would dare to disagree with the Abarmard? But with all the due respect what lessons did we learn either here or over there from the past 30 years elections except that what mattered in every election had been the votes' quantities but not the already anointed president qualities!!! Wish all the people over there soon would turn to Abarmardan & Abarzanan & would stand up for their rights once for all & would put an end to all sorts of "Moazam", "Negahban", "Kabir", "Padeh-Shah" & alike dynasties.


We are a Nation of Slogans!

by Nokteh (not verified) on

If we can just admit that until the majority of people are tired of this group nothing will change, just endure(which we are historically very good at) and enjoy the arts and music that has florished during these times. They will continue driving the herd to the stables and if one gets lose, they will either brand or slaughter them.

We didn't make a mistake 30 years ago, we just showed how intelligent we were as a nation.

But future is bright as they eventually will fall and be no more, just like everything else on this planet.

Bigger question is: have we learned our lesson? as history has a bad habit of repeating itself.


let's agree at least

by Abarmard on

Let's at least agree that the election is one thing that don't matter regardless of your location.
It's all systematic choice. The issue is the lessons learned by the society. If you believe that the people of Iran have been powerless then we have nothing to debate here.


Election does matter

by Iranivaliazad (not verified) on

ONLY in Numbers ... the more people vote, regardless of their vote, the more they breath fresh air into decaying body of IRI.

Just last week, the leader as well as Rasman-jani confessed that a great turnout GUARANTEES IRI for another few years. Neither one talked about next president's agenda, country's short comings, etc. etc. they were just worried about low voting numbers.

A presidential vote equals to vote of confidence to brutal IRI.

Farhad Kashani

Very true, it does not

by Farhad Kashani on

Very true, it does not matter who the regime appoints in june as Khamenei's international public relations director (i.e what they call "president"), hasnt 30 years show us anything???

The regime is "un-fixable" (if it's a word!)...we need a total overhaul of government and governence and worldview in Iran. A total "khaneh-tekaani" if you will. Total refresh.  

Begging for the democracy scraps from Khamenei and his Fascist regime will get us nowhere.


Satement of Facts, Abarmard

by Magarmard (not verified) on

The author is simply stating the facts, Mr. Abarmard! His conclusion is that the elections results are already clear based on the regime behavior in the past. One thing the author misses, however, to point out is that Ahmadi Nejad has been a “Pasdar” before & that is why he has been taking care of “Bsijis” & “Pasdars” in the past 4 years by making them ultra super rich. These 2 heavily armed groups are 100% obedient to Khamenie and care less about the country’s economy. Ahmadi Nejad in my opinion is a very poor actor and pretends to be what he is really not. He is going to lead the economy for worse in the next 4 years and will also lead the regime toward more militarization. Guaranteed. As the regime aim is to stay in power we will have another “Khatemi type” president hand picked then to again bring changes after 8 years of Ahmadi Nejad’s dynasty. And that is how the Recycling Republic of Iran operates.


human rights

by Barbra on

Sure economic well-being is all that matters in the election. Anyway do you guys think that the worsening human rights record is his fault? Or why the hell is that? Do the Iranians actually know that it is getting worse than ever...?


You don't think it matters

by Abarmard on

Yet you write a semi long piece about it. Just ignore it then.

Are you trying to convince those who think the same as you or those who oppose your point of view?

Write about revolution or something, why waste time on the Iranian election that don't matter?