I'm fascinated by the Iranian election results. On the surface it appears that the vote was rigged by the guys in power. That's the way these things usually go. But this is a bit more interesting.

First, remember that in Iran the Supreme Leader, Khamenie, decides who gets to run for President. So in theory, whoever wins is okay with Khamenie, even if one candidate is somewhat preferred. That's not a situation where the Supreme Leader has a strong need to rig an election, especially given the risk that doing so would delegitimize the entire government, which is apparently what happened.

But what if President Ahmadinejad's supporters were behind the vote rigging, without the approval of the Supreme Leader? That theory makes sense. Ahmadinejad's supporters would have both the means and the motive.

I haven't yet heard the conspiracy theory that the United States and/or Israel were behind the election results. Both countries would have the motives to destabilize Iran by making the election appear rigged. And Israel would have a better justification for military action if Ahmadinejad remains in power. But I doubt either Israel or the U.S. has the means to rig an Iranian election.

The Supreme Leader has ordered his cronies to look into the allegations of election fraud. Most cynics would conclude that this is just a trick to appease the masses. The obvious play here would be to appear concerned about the feelings of the voters, pretend to look into it for several months then conclude that everything was just fine. By then the outrage will have subsided and people will have acclimated to their unsatisfying situation.

But I am going to make a prediction. I think the Supreme Leader will report to his people in a few weeks that the election was rigged by supporters of Ahmadinejad, without the President's knowledge. And the election will be held again. And I predict you will also hear allegations of meddling by outside powers, meaning the U.S. and Israel, but those suspicions will not be supported by evidence.
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Jun 15, 2009
Minor point - Khomeini died in 1989; he was succeeded by Khamanei who is still the Supreme Leader.

On your forecast, I would like to mention that Khamanei is not considered as strong as Khomeini and remains in power through consensus and by balancing competing interests within the various power structures, formal and informal. If he were to declare the vote invalid due to fraud, this would indict those !$%*!$%* responsible for maintaining internal state security...which could introduce serious instability - something the state is loath to do.

I suspect they will declare the vote valid (publicly), but seek to molify Mousavi with a role in Gov't. I suspect this is just the first step in the disintegration of the Iranian state as it exists today - but that this will be a lengthy process...the real change will start in four years with the next election.

On the other hand...I hope you are right, I'd much rather see a new election, especially after Ahmadinejad's supporters get mud on their face for subverting the democratic process.
Jun 15, 2009
Scott, Khomeini is already dead. It's Khamenei. ;-)
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Jun 15, 2009
It's anybody's guess as to what really went on and what will happen next, but it woud be very cool if Scott nailed it!
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