It's not democracy. It's
It's certain that a majority are not going to vote. But
that's not enough
June 8, 2005
Interview with leader of the Worker-Communist
Party of Iran Hamid
Taqvaee which was broadcast on TV
International English. Maryam Namazie
is the host of TV International English, Central Council
Member of the Organisation of Women's Liberation
and Director of the International Relations Committee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran.
Namazie: The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding
its presidential 'election' on
June 17. You have stated this is not a real election. Why do you
Hamid Taqvaee: Actually by any standards, these cannot be called
elections. The first reason is that in the Islamic Republic of
Iran there is no political freedom. No non-Islamic party or one
that is not somehow connected with the regime can be active in
Iran. With or without elections, there is no free political activity
allowed. Moreover, all opposition groups are either in exile, in
prison or their members have been executed. Under such conditions,
an election does no make any sense. An election, in which no opposition
political party is allowed to take part, is a total fraud. The
regime can't even afford to conduct an election amongst those
parties affiliated with itself and thereby legal in Iran. Even
amongst them, the election is not free.
The election is nothing but a show, a fraud and big lie. The
different factions of the government, based on their status and
power at any given moment when the election comes round, introduce
some candidates; based on their behind the scenes negotiations
and compromises, someone is pulled out of the hat as president.
The people of Iran know this, and few will be taking part in it
this time round.
You've raised many issues and questions.
I do want to address them each individually. One of the things
you mentioned is the candidates allowed to run in this election.
Only six out of the 1,014 prospective candidates were eligible
to compete in the election as decided upon by the Council of Guardians.
That is less than 1 percent. Some say this is the main reason elections
are not fair is because the Council of Guardians are using unfair
and arbitrary measures and if the Council of Guardians, an unelected
body, did not intervene and have veto power, it would then be fair.
This is only part of the problem and not even
the main issue here. Of course having a body like the Council of
Guardians, which filters out candidates not approved by the system
and Khamenei who is the 'Supreme Spiritual Leader',
is fraudulent but that is still not the main issue. Even if the
Council of Guardians did not select the candidates, because of
the lack of political freedoms, it would still not be fair. Innumerable
members of opposition groups have been executed and exiled. Political
opposition groups have been banned and cannot participate in political
life; there is no freedom of speech, association, organisation,
and media. Under such conditions, elections cannot be fair.
If one tenth of what was happening in Iran took place elsewhere,
such as in the Ukraine, the election would be condemned and deemed
illegal by many western governments, the media and election watch
dogs. But in Iran it is still called an election by western states
and the media as they don't want public opinion to know that
it is nothing but a farce.
Some would say there are guidelines for eligibility
in all elections. For example, you have to be a US citizen to run
in the US. Those banned in Iran included 81 unemployed people,
19 teenagers, and 250 people without a secondary-school diploma.
What is wrong with bans then -- aren't there always some
form of ban in elections?
It's a joke. You cannot compare Iran with
the sort of democracy found in the west. Of course we don't
approve of that sort of democracy either like in the USA where
only two main parties because of money, influence and other factors
can really participate and run every 4 years. But even with that
sort of democracy, what is taking place in Iran is incomparable.
On paper, if you are not a Muslim, and a Shia Muslim at that, you
cannot become a candidate for the election. If you are a Muslim
and don't agree with the Supreme Spiritual leader, again
you cannot take part in the elections. That's the issue.
The issue is not civil conditions, such as citizenship and
education -- whether you agree or disagree with them that's
In Iran based on your approval of the government
and government policies, and even not the government -- but
that faction of the government that has the upper hand -- then
you have no chance of even becoming a candidate let alone being
elected. So in Iran by any standards, it is not an election or
even a selection. It is a show for that faction of the regime
that has the upper hand to run the show and ensure the election
president from that faction. This is the situation in every presidential
election in Iran.
Khamenei, the supreme spiritual leader, says
one has to show commitment to the political system and practical
adherence to Islam as it is an Islamic Republic so candidates must
obviously be judged by Islamic criteria.
Khamenei cannot have it both ways. Either you
have an Islamic Republic or you have some sort of democracy. You
cannot have both at the same time. We have been against the Islamic
Republic from the beginning, not just because of its elections
but because it is a criminal and barbaric government that has killed
over 100 thousand people and under its rule, there are no rights
for women or people. That's the main reason. And that's
the Islamic Republic. So don't try to play a game and show
that the Islamic Republic has some sort of elections. You don't
have elections. If you want to select somebody from those who agree
with you and belong to the faction with the upper hand -- and
not even someone from the other faction -- then you cannot
call it an election. Just say, we determine a president based on
The people in Iran are saying to hell with your Islam and selections.
They are saying we don't want you or your selections. Their
propaganda has no influence in Iran now; they have no base any
longer. It has become a joke amongst the people.
But some say voter turnout is a lot higher than
many western democracies, for example Khatami was voted in with
70% of the votes. Some would say it shows the regime has legitimacy.
First of all, those days are past. In the election
for Khatami, people turned out to vote in order to say no to Khamenei,
the supreme spiritual leader, and his candidate. Khatami was from
the other faction of the government, which is the main reason why
people voted for him. But that was the last time this happened. Since
then, all elections have been boycotted by the people and they have
not voted for any faction or candidate. It is also important to note
that in Iran, many are forced to vote by restrictions imposed on
them if they don't. For example, youth are told they
won't be able to attend university or have ID cards renewed if they don't
a stamp confirming they voted so many will face problems if they don't
Also the regime announces the numbers who have voted. There is no independent
verification. As I said, you cannot compare the elections of the Islamic Republic
of Iran with any in the west. There are no verified statistics; numbers are made
up and part of their propaganda; you really can't rely on anything they
Another issue that has come up is that women are automatically
banned from running in the elections. Azam Taleghani, a banned candidate, says
this is a misinterpretation of Islam.
Again, you cannot be a Muslim and a liberal or a Muslim and then
talk of elections. The issue of interpretation is an excuse for that faction
of the government which says that Islam is good; that they can rule via Islam
and the Koran; and have an Islamic government and at the same time, fair elections.
Rubbish! This is not possible. Of course women are not allowed to participate
according to the Islamic Republic's constitution. The constitution says
presidential candidates have to be men. Whether this is
based on Islam or not -- no one really cares! It is not fair for women in
But again that is not the main point. Even men are not allowed to take part.
Of course it is much worse for women because in all aspects of society not
just the elections, women are denied basic rights. That's a fact. But as far
as elections are concerned, there is no political freedom, making it a show
What are you calling on people in Iran to do?
It's certain that a majority are not going to vote. But
that is not enough. We are calling on people to actively protest and they have
begun to do so, such as the students, workers, women, and so on. Prior to the
election, if a candidate holds a public meeting, we are calling on people to
disrupt it and expose the farce and to do the same on 'election day'.
We are calling on people to organise themselves against the election. We want
to show the entire world that this so-called election is not accepted by the
people of Iran. The people are against the Islamic Republic of Iran and will
their opposition on the streets of Iran.
What's the difference between your position and those calling
for a boycott, including members of the reformist faction in the regime?
A boycott happens automatically. We have seen this during the Islamic
Assembly elections. Boycotting is nothing new for people. It doesn't show
people what to do. That's what they are going to do anyway. As I said,
most people are not going to participate in the election. So if a party or a
faction of the government calls for a boycott, they are merely following what
people are already doing. What is needed is to lead people. Leading people means
that this time you have to have an active position against the election and call
on people to come out onto the streets and demonstrate against the election.
Our tactic is that we mustn't allow this farce to take place as usual.
This depends on the people of Iran. We are calling on them not only not to vote
but to actively protest.
I have been reading comments that calling on people not to vote
will promote a form of political apathy. I'm sure you don't agree;
No it won't because as I said, people should actively show that they want
to change the situation by their own will, their own hands and own movement.
If the election is not an election; if it is fraudulent; saying one will not
part doesn't say much. It is not an election to decide whether one will
or will not take part in it. It is not an election at all, as has always been
the case. The difference this time is that people are ready to protest. This
people know it is not enough to stay home and not go out on 'election day'.
They know that is not enough. This time the movement only started on the 1st
of May with workers' protests against Rafsanjani, the regime's main
An anti-election movement has already begun for several weeks, will continue
and will become more powerful as we approach 'election day'. That
is what we
are trying to organise and lead.
Some say people should vote for Rafsanjani as he can solve the
situation with the USA.
Rafsanjani has been president before. He failed and couldn't do anything.
After the Iran-Iraq war, he was president, and introduced new economic policies,
followed by propaganda on things he was going to do. Nothing
happened. Now it's even worse for him. He was a candidate for the Islamic
Assembly election a few years ago; he wanted to be the Assembly speaker. But
he had such low votes, he was forced to resign. It's going to be the same
again. I don't think Rafsanjani is any better or worse than the others.
They are all the same. And all of them, their policies, their propaganda, have
nothing to do with the people. The people hate them all.
What would you call on people to do internationally in order
to support the people of Iran?
The first step is to inform public opinion, the media, trade unions,
rights organisations, institutions, etc. on the truth about the election in Iran.
They should know that this is not an election by any standards. That it is nothing
but fraud and a political lie. They should know that the people of Iran will
not participate and will actively oppose it. They
shouldn't listen to the propaganda of the regime. The other step is that
we ask them to condemn this election and speak out against it. This is what the
Worker-communist Party is organising towards.