Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Iran’s Elections Are Still Phony

The same western media that has for the past seven years dismissed every genuine throb of freedom in the Middle East is now tripping over itself to praise a prix fixe “election” in a police state that continues to punish dissent with death.

Andrew Sullivan gets the question perfectly inverted when he asks, “Does anyone doubt that if this kid [sic] of peaceful campaigning were happening in Iraq, it would be regarded as a sign of a nascent democracy?” Iraqis could have held a resplendent Obama-McCain-style democracy jubilee and it still would have been yawned off as a sham.

“Peaceful campaigning” can be seen in any backwater dictatorship that tags the words “Democratic Republic of” onto its country name. It’s a cosmetic diversion that often presages phenomena like 100% turnout and 100% support for the incumbent. I’m more impressed with heated campaigning and the kind of defiance Iraqi voters have repeatedly demonstrated in facing down terrorists and making their voices heard on election day — most recently in regional elections that tilted handily toward non-fanatical parties.

Yet, no matter how vital the democratic spirit in Iraq, naysayers like Sullivan dismiss it as an evanescent quirk or a calculated ruse. Which is why he described that last remarkable Iraqi election in this way: “The elections aren’t happening on schedule and the powers that be are doing all they can to disenfranchise the powers that aren’t.”

Sure.

But breathlessness reigns as Iranians go to the polls today to pick one of four candidates who were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. Here’s the BBC news gushing over the process:

“There has been a surge of interest recently in Iran’s presidential election, with unprecedented live television debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands.

Mr [Kamran] Daneshjoo [election commission chief] has said the turnout could exceed the 1997 election, in which reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected. State-run Irna TV said more than five million people cast their vote in the first four hours of voting.

And here’s Barack Obama celebrating the hand-picked final four as if the Berlin Wall was falling a second time:

“Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide,” he said.

“You’re seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there’s been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways.”

There are only so many times you can say it, but it bears repeating: the four candidates were winnowed down from a pool of 475 by the Guardian Council. That Iranians “peacefully” embrace this autocratic manipulation as electoral freedom is a sad sign of a beaten down citizenry, not an indication of nascent democracy.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.