Saturday, July 06, 2024

Iranian election makes a statement but don't expect change

Iran has given a resounding vote of confidence to a new "reformist" president, in the recent election to replace President Ebrahim Raisi, who died mysteriously in a helicopter crash in May of this year.

Masoud Pereshkian, the only "reformist" candidate in the slate of six presidential candidates allowed by Iran's Guardian Council, received 16.3 million votes compared to 13.5 million votes for conservative hardliner Saeed Jalili in the run-off round of voting on Friday. You have to see this as a slap in the face for the regime, as the people voted overwhelmingly for the only "reformist" candidate they were allowed. Voter turnout was, however, a historic low at less than 50%.

Of course, "reformist", in Iranian terms, does not really mean that much - you'll notice I'm using quote marks throughout - so don't get your hopes up. Pereshkian did promise to ease enforcement of Iran's mandatory headscarf law, but let's see whether he is even allowed to do that. He is technically in control of a government that is still largely made up of hardliners, and most of the real power in the country still resides with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Preshkian he will almost certainly not try and cross Ayatollah Khameini in anything important, so his aims will remain modest.

The country is not really expecting a major turnaround in its international policies any time soon, and it will remain a pariah at the extreme fringes of the geopolitical status quo.

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