Iran: President Ahmadinejad?


Reuters is reporting that Tehran's "ultra-conservative" mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has "swept to victory in Iran's presidential election." Aides to the other candidate, "moderate" cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told Reuters that, "It's over, we accept that we've lost."

The wire service speculated that an Ahmadinejad victory would result in an "end to fragile social reforms and rapprochement with the West." Ahmadinejad has promised to redistribute Iran's oil wealth and to attack corruption; his apparent victory has been attributed to support from the urban and rural poor.

The ostensible new president may owe his victory to other factors as well. One is alleged voter intimidation on his behalf by militiamen; the other is a boycott of the election by reform-minded Iranians who are weary of their revolution and who seek to foment a crisis of legitimacy.

The "official" turnout numbers are that 22 million people, or 47 percent of Iran's eligible voters, participated in this round of the elections. Assuming those numbers to be accurate, that's a major drop-off from the 63 percent of Iranian voters who reportedly participated in the first round of voting on June 17. (The regime's June 17 numbers have been disputed by anti-regime bloggers.)

Anyway, Reuters reminds us that in revolutionary Iran, "Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last word on all matters of state." Nobody is president of Iran until the Supreme Leader says he is president of Iran.