The Recent Parliamentary Elections in the Islamic Republic


by IranWrites

“Once again, the people of Iran entrusted the Parliament to the fundamentalists.” This was the headline of Keyhan,
the government’s publication in Tehran. There was a change to
Saturday’s headline, “Under the wondering gaze of the world, the
nation’s vote broke the enemy’s back.” Keyhan’s
headlines celebrated what appears laughable but, sadly, is true: “A man
wrestled with himself and three of them came first,” a revision of a
joke in Sepidaran, Ahmad Shirzad’s blog yesterday, reflecting the reality of our parliamentary election.

was not surprised to read that, once again, the Islamic Republic
performed its miracle, once again we made the whole world dumfounded,
along with amazed, bewildered, crazed, astonished, shocked, startled,
flabbergasted, and any other synonyms one can find in dictionary,
although in reality it was only once that we truly shocked the world
(and that only by a narrow definition of world): the presidential
election of 1997 which brought Mohammad Khatami
to power, and we received political plaudits in some quarters twice
again, once for Khatami’s second term and again for the last Municipal
election of city councils. However during the past two and half years,
our president has announced an earthshaking discovery or innovation or
astonishing achievement that either “pierced the eyes of enemies” or
“punched them in the mouth” or “slapped them in the face” every single
week. Given Keyhan’s headlines as such and Ahmadinejad’s proclamation, there should not be left any eyes, tooth, or cheeks undamaged in the world.

While inflation has been rising, unemployment is out of control, and fraud and corruption are skyrocketing (Sardar Zarei’i’s prostitution story certainly beats our Governor’s
story though), and housing in at its worst, the government campaign was
ticketed on the supreme leader’s aim that this election would “show our
unity to our enemy by our participation in a glorious election.”

Government and the ruling clerics have very clearly defined themselves
as “principalist and fundamentalist” without any further
qualifications. They never doubted their own legitimacy, tried to prove
themselves, or bothered to appeal to any authority to win over this
segment of the population whom they appeal to. Since the Islamic
Revolution, fundamentalism has self-confidently strode into Iran’s
political arena and marched backward to the dawn of Islam and
successfully established all the institutions, as well as a suitable
discourse, necessary for an Islamic system to function and survive.

Parliament is used by this government’s leadership, who does not even
believe in democracy, it does not surprise me. If Khamenei would
craftily call on the people “to participate in election to beat the
enemy,” I’m sure he has a proper audience in mind which could be
brought into this. Principalists realistically targeted their potential
constituency, those who believe in Ahmadinejad’s halo, the imminent ending of the Hidden Imam’s Occultation, and the location of his well,
etc., and developed a core of supporters by establishing suitable
institutions and discourse among them. Since the first day of his
presidency, Ahmadinejad relentlessly has supplied his supporters with
what they needed: the articles of superstition, witchcraft, magic, and
miracles touched by superficial aspects of the faith which could be
found in abundance in every religion. His campaign on this aim started
right after his election and continues still. On Friday, March 14, they
all returned the favor and cast their ballots for him.

Reformists, in the other hand, like an army full of generals without soldiers, walked onto the battlefield expecting miracles.

When embarrassed, they accused the pricipalists of departing from the Imam’s wishes and ideas.

When defeated, they claim the victory for having 60% of the 104 seats, according to Mohammad Ali Abtahi's blog of March 17.

60% did not participate in the elections in Tehran, the stronghold of
the reformists, they claimed they are the legitimate heirs to people’s

While the majority of the people are inherently
pro-reform, the reform movement failed to reach them and therefore to
receive their support.

While there is a vast reservoir of
potential supporters in a country of 75 millions, over half of which is
younger than 35, the reformists are still awaiting for the birth of a

While non-fundamentalists and secular Iranians,
who could have been absorbed by the reformists, are finding their own
language and establishing their own institutions, the reformists still
resort to the same language used by the fundamentalists and emulate
their institutions, only a bit fancier.

For months, in
meeting after meeting, the best they could come up with was President
Khatami’s double-talk, like declaration, “Let us participate in
election long-sufferingly, yet cheerfully.” I read this statement a few
times back and forth trying to make a sense of it. Still it is unclear
to me and many whom they addressed this message to and what it meant.
Really, who was supposed to vote? Who wants to sent Zahra and Hasan Eshraghi
to the Parliament? What for? What sort of reform they will bring to us?
Who are they anyhow? The Imam’s dynasty? Turn back another thirty years?

the reform movements’ most important achievement was sort of
establishing and legitimizing the “opposition” to the ruling hardliners
in the regime, what is left of it today is just a “long-suffering
voice”. There is no trace of opposition left in it.

election in fact brought the two segments of the society, culturally,
politically, nationally, and even religiously head to head. If this
conflict manifested itself in the messages sent by their leaders,
“let’s vote to beat the enemy” vs. “let’s vote to show we are
long-suffering,” clearly the reformist message did not reflect the
voice of its potential supporters. When Khatami, regretfully, issued
the above-mentioned statements, the real voice of the majority would
call for a real challenge to the supreme leader, saying, “No, the
Parliament is not a sports gym where we show our muscles to our
enemies, the enemies that you created for us; that it is not place for
us to rally to display our unity. We are united but not in your
fraudulent front. Parliament is our home for our representative to work
on our behalf to secure our interest and well-being.”

there is a vast cultural division in the country that cannot be denied
anymore. While the present government and leadership have found its
constituency among the masses who are equally happy with having a
parliament as wrestling pit and willing to participate in the match,
the reformist leaders simply evade the issue and declare failure
cheerfully and invited people to “loose with a smile.”

fact, the Principlists celebrated not only their own victory, but the
reformists’ defeat. A simple look at the voting results will give a
clear picture. In Tehran, which is the stronghold of the reformists,
only 40% of all eligible voters participated and the top candidate was
Adel Hadad, rather than any of the reformists. No matter how
discriminatory and unjust the voting process was, there is no
justification for this failure. Those 60% in Tehran who did not
participate in the election could have cast their votes for all the
reformist candidates and they could have taken all the Tehran’s seats
in a landslide had the reform movement asked them to. Unfortunately,
our reformist friends never reached out to the millions of existing
Iranian who could have been their strong supporters; rather they
addressed some idealized members of their non-existing party.

party which came to power with 22 million real votes, crying loud that,
“We are with you Khatami, we support you Khatami,” was reduced to next
to nothing by the policy of being long-suffering and complaining of
“others” and those “absent entities.” I sometimes thought they spent
most of their time and energy wishing for some exorcists to cast a
spell over those “evil entities.” After twelve years they have not been
able to establish any unique institutions or discourse of their own to
define reform’s nature. It seems they shied away from average middle
class secular Iranians, those big “S” people, those big snaky “S”
people who constitute at least 60% of voters and stayed home on Friday,
those who really would cherish reform but have no place in the
reformists’ mind or heart.

Reformists did not even use what
was offered them even to a fraction of its potential. The pledges of
250 young and popular actors and actresses could have brought a few
million votes to the reformists. (In the last presidential election, in
spite of the serious boycott by almost all, Baran Kossary’s campaign brought one million votes for Mustafa Mo’in!)
Instead of a clear message with a clear goal and purpose, the
reformists send fuzzy, confusing messages. The wide gap between the
reform establishment and pro-reform people could be narrowed if the
party would have been willing to define the movement in a way to
include those millions, and to employ a discourse suitable for this
majority, even at the cost of losing some for whom the movement
currently appeals in manipulating religious symbols.

that there are reformists who know of these missing people, I wonder if
we, the middle class secular Iranians, who are the backbone of Iranian
society, definitely the backbone of civil society, are ever going to be
included as part of the society that the reform movement envisions; if
at some point the reform movement quits sticking to the paradox that is
created, if at some point they admit there is something essentially
wrong in Islamic Republic that needs to be reformed; and if it begins
to hear us saying, “No, going back to thirty years ago is no good,
there were problems then, there is problem now! We want real reform!”

this point, we are so far from all this that sometimes I wonder if
reform is only a nominal party which must exist just to fill up as an
alibi, just in the case!


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Wecome to Reality; this is what politics is about ....

by Kadkhoda (not verified) on

Welcome to reality. Politics is like this. One day you are "up" and the next you are "down" (or vice-a-versa). You are seeing what democracies are like. There is no single "king=Shah" or like that who gets elected "as expected". You are sometimes surprised.