Elections in Iran: Ultra-conservative Ahmadinejad wins

Experts tell AsiaNews: extensive manipulation by Guardians of the Revolution in the presidential ballot; now they are more powerful than ever.

Teheran (AsiaNews/agencies) – Yesterday's election for Iran's presidency was won by the ultra-conservative mayor Ahmadinejad, 49 years, who garnered 61% of votes against 70-year-old Rasfanjani, former president of the republic from 1989 to 1997, who got 35%. This information was published by the Iranian Ministry of the Interior during the night.

This is the first time a layman will run the country since the 1979 Revolution. The result contradicts outcome predictions and, according to analysts interviewed by AsiaNews, it confirms that "in Iran there is no progressive movement, as they would have us believe". The turnout was, according to official information, of 47% - 22 million – of eligible voters; 63% voted in the first electoral round. The analysts said: "The figures are not credible: it is more than certain that manipulation of data and electoral gerrymandering in favour of Ahmadinejad have been found; until a short while ago, days were needed before the results of an election in Iran were made known. Today, only a few hours were needed, the affair is suspect…" Rasfanjani's supporters denounced gerrymandering and accused the Culture Ministry, the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij – the national voluntary militia – of promoting Ahmadinejad.

"The Guardians of the Revolution and above them the Supreme leader have taken the situation in hand and they did so very ably, moving in the shadows and above all using apparently democratic means," said the experts who wished to remain anonymous. "They created two rivals: Rafsanjani, the so-called liberal moderate and the reformer Karroubi; they made them talk and then they eliminated both, bringing into the limelight a perfect stranger, who is comfortable for them because he is layman, but an extremist" On 24 May, the Guardians' Council – which controls the process of popular consultations – turned down 99% of the candidates.

Meanwhile, the United States views the new president with caution. Joanne Moore, spokeswoman for the State Department, said: "Seeing how these elections turned out, we are doubtful about the fact that the Iranian regime is interested in what the people want or in international equilibrium." Ahmadinejad's rejoinder: "Reports with the United States are not a solution for our problems."

According to analysts, it is now necessary to wait and see how the new president will proceed; he will doubtless follow Khamenei's orders: "Whatever the result, things would not have changed: basically now that there is an extremist in government, the Supreme Guide will impart "corrections" from the left rather than from the right but in essence power remains in his hands."

The analysts added: "Yesterday's results are an event of no little significance: while the rest of the Middle East is moving towards democracy, in Iran, the opposite process is taking place and a rigid system is being reinforced with popular backing." Time is also needed to see developments on the level of international politics: "The nuclear policy will go ahead, but it is crucial to see how various related issues will evolve, like: ties between Israel and Palestine – as long as the Palestinians can be supported as an obstacle to the US, anti-western propaganda of conservatives will find fertile ground; who will really rule in Iraq after the American withdrawal; and then Syria, Lebanon…"

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