Iranian elections are always an interesting process to watch – from a distance. We’ve already seen what happens when demonstrators step outside the party line. The last go-round left a young girl dead in the street as well as other protesters struck down by the Revolutionary Guard. With the elections set for June 14, should this year be any different?
On Saturday, a new event entered the race when Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei showed up to thrown his hat in the ring at the last moment. Mashaei holds views contrary to alliance of conservative Shiite clergy and Revolutionary Guard commanders. They have labeled him a “deviant” because Mashaei holds the view that a person can have a relationship with God without a clerical intermediary. The Guard also warned former President Al Akbar Hashemi Rafsanhani not to run and called him a traitor for supporting opposition leaders they do not approve of.
A clue for what may be ahead broke out when Moashaei showed up to register to run and a fist-fight erupted in the press room. Microphones were knocked off the table as the fighting continued.
Technically, any Iranian citizen is free to run in an election. However, the process doesn’t quite work out that way. Actually, a group called the Guardian Council considers all candidates and makes a decision about who they will allow to run. Rafsanjani had to wait at home all day Saturday to wait and see if he was given permission to run.
One of the undeclared reasons that the United States has pressed Israel not to attack is to allow sanctions to work on Iran is the hope that their government might not prevail in an election because of economic pressure. It is no secret that the youth of the country are not behind the dictatorial mullahs who actually control the power. Violent protests demonstrated the fact that if it were not for the harsh military leadership of the Revolutionary Guard, the clergy might have been overthrown much earlier. The average man on the street has never had much interest in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. That pursuit of nuclear weaponry is held primarily at the top.
Undoubtedly, the entry of these late applying candidates could have an important effect on the outcome of the election. Could they change the course of Iranian politics in pursuit of nuclear power? Probably not, but they could be a definite moderating factor.