A couple of notes on the post-election scene in Iran:
MRZine posted results from a poll conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow: Center for Public Opinion a few days ago (prior to the elections in Iran) indicating that Ahmadinejad was the front-runner; some in the left blogosphere have cited this poll as evidence that it is not crazy to suppose that he won by the margins the official reports say he did.
Then here is an interesting post from Juan Cole of the Global Americana Institute (from June 14th):
Class v. Culture Wars in Iranian Elections
Rejecting Charges of a North Tehran Fallacy
Some comentators have suggested that the reason Western reporters were shocked when Ahmadinejad won was that they are based in opulent North Tehran, whereas the farmers and workers of Iran, the majority, are enthusiastic for Ahmadinejad. That is, we fell victim once again to upper middle class reporting and expectations in a working class country of the global south.
While such dynamics may have existed, this analysis is flawed in the case of Iran because it pays too much attention to class and material factors and not enough to Iranian culture wars. We have already seen, in 1997 and 2001, that Iranian women and youth swung behind an obscure former minister of culture named Mohammad Khatami and his 2nd of Khordad movement, capturing not only the presidency but also, in 2000, parliament.
Khatami received 70 percent of the vote in 1997. He then got 78% of the vote in 2001, despite a crowded field. In 2000, his reform movement captured 65% of the seats in parliament. He is a nice man, but you couldn’t exactly categorize him as a union man or a special hit with farmers.
The evidence is that in the past little over a decade, Iran’s voters had become especially interested in expanding personal liberties, in expanding women’s rights, and in a wider field of legitimate expression for culture (not just high culture but even just things like Iranian rock music). The extreme puritanism of the hardliners grated on people.
Read the full post.
Finally, we covered some of the background relevant to the Iranian elections in an article, “Populism and Neoliberalism in Iran,” by Rostam Pourzal, in our Nov/Dec 2008 issue. (The article is not available online, but you can order back issues here.)