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Iran's 11th Presidential Election (No. 3): Notes on Elections in Iran

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Election in Iran is quite a well-established issue which enjoys its own specific legal mechanisms. Although all kinds of elections are of importance, presidential polls have been always of special sensitivity. As said in the past two reports, Iran Review website aims to take an analytical approach to this issue before, during and after the 11th presidential election is held in Iran in order to provide its readers and audience with a transparent picture unaffected by ephemeral news highlights or special analyses which focus on specific political currents. In line with that approach, the third report on the forthcoming presidential election in Iran encompasses those points and topics which seem to provide the website’s audience with a suitable mental framework about the current situation. Those topics are as follows.

Some Quantitative notes on presidential election

1. On June 14, 2013, Iran will be holding both the 11th presidential election and elections for local and municipal councils.

- As for the councils, registration of 207,000 main and substitute members of municipal councils for cities and villages started on April 15. Although this is apparently a nonpolitical election, rivalry in big cities (which account for 30 percent of the country’s population) are political and based on political groupings. In medium-sized and small cities and towns (accounting for 40 percent of the population) a combination of local and national issues is of importance for the election of candidates which include their ability to get necessary budget appropriated to their city or town and implement developmental projects. The activities of influential persons or groups are also of import in such cities. Even in villages (containing 30 percent of the country’s population) the activities of the councils affect almost all aspects of people’s daily lives.

- On the other hand, registration of presidential election candidates will take place between May 7 and May 11. The Guardian Council is in charge of vetting the candidates for qualifications. This process will take five days from May 12 to 16 and can be extended for another five days. After vetting the candidates, the Interior Ministry will release the final list of election candidates on May 22 and 23. Then, the candidates can start their campaign and keep it up for 20 days from May 24 to June 12. After a one-day interregnum during which all kinds of publicity for nominees will be forbidden, the election will be held on June 14.

Some Analytical notes on presidential election

2. During three decades since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, more than 30 elections, including presidential and parliamentary elections as well as those held for urban and rural councils have been held across the country with an average turnout figure of more than 60 percent. This statistics is quite remarkable compared to other political systems across the Middle East region.

3. Special people who represented various political tendencies in the Iranian society have been elected as president through ten presidential polls which have been so far held in Iran. Although opposition groups have been regularly questioning the integrity of the elections in Iran, a review of elected presidents, at least during the past 24 years and including the incumbent president and his two predecessors, as well as the way that various organs of the Islamic establishment have been interacting with them will easily prove falsehood of such claims. During the aforesaid period, three presidents have been elected in Iran who have demonstrated substantial differences from one another in terms of attitude, approach, goals and plans. The degree of difference among such presidents as Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so striking as to obviate any need for further explanation. This proves that during the past presidential polls, it has been possible for the Iranian people to choose a candidate who has been closer to their viewpoints and needs at that time. And the Islamic establishment, on the other hand, has worked with a person who has been demonstrating considerable differences in attitude and method compared to his predecessor.

4. Another important point is the way that various political structures and institutions affiliated with the government of the Islamic Republic have chosen to interact with every one of those presidents. Both the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and such institutions as the Iranian parliament (Majlis) have not only tried to help the Executive in every possible way, but have also used warnings, criticism, reprimands and even impeachment of ministers in their interactions with each and every president.

5. Five impeachments for Hashemi Rafsanjani’s ministers by the Iranian parliament during his two presidential terms followed by impeachment of seven ministers working with Mr. Khatami during his eight-year presidential tenure as well as impeachment of seven ministers working with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his two terms in office are clear evidence to dynamic interaction between the Executive and the Legislative in Iran. Dismissal of two ministers as a result of such impeachments during Hashemi’s eight-year tenure, which was followed by dismissal of two ministers working with Mr. Khatami and three ministers working with Ahmadinejad have been objective results of that interaction.

6. Although the political structure in Iran, like all other political systems in the world, has its own shortcomings and weaknesses which should not be ignored, a comparison between pre- and post-revolution eras, especially from early 1970s to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, will reveal the sharp contrast between those two periods. During that period, dismissal of almost five prime ministers in a short period of time by the former Shah both proved that they had not been able to make a meaningful change in the country, and indicated that such posts were just titular under the Shah’s regime. On the other hand, since those changes could not prevent the Islamic Revolution, they revealed that people did not take the role played by the second most important person in the country’s political structure very seriously. However, participation of at least 16 million Iranians in the election in 1989, which later increased to more than 20 million for the next two presidents, was also a clear proof that people felt that their participation in the election and their votes really mattered.

*Iran's 11th Presidential Election (No. 2): Political Array of Iran Presidential Election

*Iran's 11th Presidential Election (No. 1): Facts and Figures