The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Iran: what gives?

June 25, 2005

By now you all probably know that Ahmadinejad handily won the election in Iran:

Ultra-conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to a landslide win in presidential elections on Saturday, spelling a possible end to Iran’s fragile social reforms and tentative rapprochement with the West.

Ahmadinejad, 48, received the backing of the religious poor to defeat moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was supported by pro-reform parties and wealthy Iranians fearful of a hardline monopoly on power in the Islamic state.

“The figures show that Ahmadinejad is the winner,” Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani told reporters.

He will be Iran’s first non-cleric president for 24 years when he takes office in August.

An official at the Guardian Council, which must approve the election results, said that out of 24.8 million voted counted, Ahmadinejad had won 61.7 percent of ballots cast, defying pre-poll predictions of a tight race.

My impression just a few days ago was that many of the non-Ahmadinejad voters were going to swing towards Rafsanjani.

I know next to nothing about the intricacies of Iranian domestic politics, so here’s a question: what happened?

The article suggests some degree of intimidation and illegal campaigning may have occurred, but that hardly seems likely to produce such a lopsided result.

Was this a case of “its the economy stupid?” A backlash to Rafsanjani’s “western-style” campaign? What role did Bush’s boneheaded decision to stoke Iranian nationalism immediately before the first round play? How about disparate media access and widespread apathy among younger voters?

Well, at least I’ll be able to delete the post I was working on that championed US-Iranian rapprochement….

Filed as: and

website | + posts

Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.