The reformists are kicking themselves

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Iranian voters are a contrary lot, said Nilufar Dashani in Tehran’s E’temad. Their surprise choice of former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president is a slap to the entire political establishment. It wasn’t just the reformist groups who were supporting the candidacy of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president. Plenty of conservative clerics were campaigning for him as well. Conservatives preferred the 70-year-old Rafsanjani because he comes from the first generation of revolutionaries, the group that founded the Islamic Republic. Ahmadinejad, a mere child of 48, represents the future—and the future always “frightens conservatives.” But the people ignored the advice of both ends of the political spectrum and made their own decision.

The reformists have only themselves to blame, said E’temad in an editorial. They should have protested much more vehemently several months ago, when nearly every reformist candidate was banned from running. Then, amid allegations of fraud, the first round of elections eliminated the few reformists on the ballot, and “the vast majority of the reformist and moderate figures accepted the outcome.” With the field narrowed to two choices, they selected Rafsanjani as the lesser of two evils and campaigned for him vigorously, as if he were a reformer himself. Yet voters knew he wasn’t. They seemed to feel they were being manipulated. The more the political elite mobilized behind Rafsanjani, the more the people “opposed what they saw as an imposition on them.”

Rafsanjani was a sorry choice anyway, said Tehran’s Aftab-e Yazd in an editorial. Many voters genuinely don’t like him. Ahmadinejad was an unknown quantity, at least outside of Tehran. While voters may not have been sure what he would do in office, at least he was something new. Rafsanjani, by contrast, actually had a record to run on—largely a “negative” one. Rumors persist that Rafsanjani amassed a private fortune when he was president from 1989 to ’97. “Ahmadinejad now owes his victory mostly to those who did not, for whatever reason, want Rafsanjani’s re-election.”

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Mohammad Quchani


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