Election Hyper Energy

Mehrangiz Kar - 2009.05.07

There is an unusual level of energy in Iran these days because of the June 12, 2009 presidential ‎elections. But why? Have elections become free? Is there an extraordinary candidate? If none of these ‎then where is this energy coming from?‎

The current presidential candidates are the same figures who have been in the political field of Iran ‎during the last thirty years, during the war, peace, etc. But the current election atmosphere today is ‎different from that of the last thirty years. The very same candidates are saying new things. Still, the ‎words do not match the status of the candidates and the conditions under which they operate. But the ‎novelty of the messages that the candidates broadcast create zeal and enthusiasm, even though there is ‎no hope of their actual fulfillment. Economic reports that are published by professionals these days ‎speak of violations by the present administration whose chief is planning to run for the office again.‎

Never in the past did presidential candidates speak so explicitly and never did they point out the ‎shortcomings of their rivals. Talking about the causes and consequences of the murder of intellectuals ‎victimized by the intelligence machinery of Iran (such as Saeed Sirjani) has precedence in election ‎campaigning. Never did a candidate insist on the possibility of election fraud and speak of a committee ‎to safeguard people’s vote. The state-run national radio and television network never worried about ‎putting itself at the exclusive service of one candidate. Never in the past did this government institution ‎experience the presence of protestors around its headquarters demanding accountability protesting the ‎use of public funds for a single specific presidential candidate. But this is exactly what happened last ‎week.‎

So we are witness to these and much more freshness in the campaigns, without ever expecting them. ‎Women and students view these elections and engage them in a different light as well. Women insist ‎on their rights, students analyze and critique them from every possible perspective. In another ‎unexpected event, a group of conservative hardliners (in Iran known as Principalists who support the ‎current President and administration) changed their loyalty and declared their support for Mir-Hossein ‎Mousavi who has no affiliations with the Principalists.‎

Watching and hearing all that is happening, one cannot remain silent to what is going on, even if we ‎are hopeless and negative.‎

With these events, it is now even more difficult to make any predictions about the outcome of the ‎elections. The intense conflicts inside the administration cannot be easily controlled or managed. At ‎the same time one cannot simply hope that the internal power struggle would come to its end ‎peacefully and that the race would end and the contenders would graciously accept the outcome of the ‎race and shake a hand of friendship, like they do in Western democracies. One cannot rule out violence ‎and unrest.‎

When the political system lacks the channels to direct election energy and enthusiasm towards ‎democratic ends, and in the absence of independent political parties, when there is no independent ‎national television network, or free media and free elections, whichever candidate loses the ‎presidential race will, along with his supporters and allies, do anything possible to hurt the competitors. ‎But even with this picture there is hope. Perhaps contrary to the concerns, democracy, which had been ‎driven “out the door” as conservatists claim, will actually reenter through the window and impost itself ‎on its foes.‎