What do you get when over 1,600 candidates register to run for president in Iran?
You get just six guys on the ballot representing the absolute worst of the Iranian regime.
Democracy at work right? Only in Iran.
What is stunning about the electoral process in Iran is how the world’s news media tend to fall flat on their collective faces in covering it and missing the most important aspects. Namely that it is essentially a fixed race with no real dissenters allowed and only those candidates deemed to be the most loyal to the regime and its ruling mullahs, especially the guy at the top, Ali Khamenei.
News media fell over themselves announcing that 1,626 applicants registered, including 137 women; the highest number ever of female candidates to register since the Islamic revolution back in 1979.
Exactly how many women made the final ballot? Zero. Nada. Zip.
This is not earth-shattering news since the 12-member, all-male Guardian Council—half of whom are handpicked by Khamenei himself—was never going to approve a woman for the ballot, but is certainly happy to milk the publicity of having these many women register.
While the women who registered may have been making a statement and doing their best to protest the electoral process in the only meaningful way that won’t land them in Evin Prison or the gallows, the mullahs only see a PR opportunity in them.
According to The New Arab, Sha’la Tabrizi, who has a PhD in Political Science, was the first woman to register for this year’s presidential race.
“Women constitute 60 percent of Iranian society, so they should strive for one of them to become a powerful president some day,” she told local media, adding that she is aware of how bleak her chances are.
Similarly, A’zam Taleghani, daughter of prominent Islamic Revolution leader Mahmoud Taleghani and Iran’s first-ever female presidential candidate, registered her candidacy for the third time this year. Taleghani is a former regime MP who heads the Regime’s “Society of Islamic Revolution Women of Iran”.
The Guardian Council has disqualified every female presidential candidate since 1979.
You do have to hand it to them for persistence.
It is not without irony that the most prominent female Iranian political leader is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi who leads the largest Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. If the regime were ever to allow her on the ballot, it is likely she might end up being the first female president of Iran.
The six candidates who did make it onto the final ballot are a who’s who of regime henchmen and brutal human rights abusers. The more serious choices that will probably make their way out of the election show are:
- Hassan Rouhani: The incumbent president presided over what has been called by international human rights groups as the largest and fastest rise in public executions in recent Iranian memory. He has also direct the regime’s support for the Assad regime and its military involvement in three wars raging in Syria, Iraq and Yemen;
- Ebrahim Raisi: arguably one of the regime’s worst human rights abusers who was known to be part of a “Death Commission” that massacred over 30,000 Iranian dissidents in the ‘80s. He now heads Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity foundation in charge of a holy shrine and provides the financial muscle for Khamenei;
- Eshaq Jahangiri: the current vice president to Rouhani, he is likely to drop out to back another candidate, but he is especially close to Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force and has played a key role in Iran’s efforts to bolster President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria as well bring in Russia to fight in Syria;
- Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a pilot and former commander of Revolutionary Guards air force and Iran’s chief of police. He has been the infamous mayor of Tehran since 2005 and this is his third bid for the presidency. He is blamed for the January’s massive fire at the Plasco building, a historic high-rise in downtown Tehran. The fire caused the building to collapse and killed 26 people, including 16 firefighters.
The inclusion of candidates such as Jahangiri and Hashemitaba are almost assuredly on the ballot to provide a perceived “balance” of “moderates” to “hardliners” even though they have no chance at winning.
The history of Iranian elections proves that with the rigged win for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 that led to widespread protests and massive crackdowns.
This election will be no different since the Guardian Council have rendered the ordinary Iranian citizen’s vote moot with a slate designed to ensure only the most devout and devoted will be elected.
For most Iranians, already severely disillusioned by the unfilled promises of Rouhani, the best and most obvious choice on the ballot might be “none of the above.”