Iranian.com is an Iranian forum and naturally discussions pertain to things Iranian. However, one extremely important fact seems to be overlooked when an event in Iran occurs and a discussion begins. And that is the fact that most of the contributors do not live in Iran and most likely will never become permanent residents of that country ever again, even if there were a sudden change of regime. Therefore, to analyze a decision in regards to the elections or any other significant event in Iran one must understand the current Iranian environment and people as they are and not as what we would like them to be.
If you are reading this article chances are your grandparents were involved or influenced by the Iranian Constitutional revolution in 1906. In other words you are the product of the democratic movement in Iran of a century ago, hence the liberal views vividly expressed by this readership. However, the readership’s liberal views represent only a minority of the Iranian population’s views in Iran.
In essence the Iranian Diaspora, readers of Iranian.com, as an example, is a satellite group drawn to its motherland from a distance. If its aim is to have a real understanding and effect, it must first realize that it has evolved from its origin and secondly it must try to understand its origin before advocating any change. Otherwise it runs the risk of alienating itself and wandering off into the universe with the identity “Iranian” as a mere label.
To understand the “pseudo-elections” in Iran, one must accept the fact that as vocal as any democratic minority may be in Iran, the majority do not have experience in a democratic environment. If asked, most can not even define democracy nor outline its critical points such as equality of contenders, tolerance for opposing views, civil debates, and acceptance of majority rule.
Why? Because, in many respect, Iran, as glorious as it may have been at one time, is still a traditional society trying to experiment with a modern concept called democracy. She may have a hard time with that concept, but nevertheless she CAN detect corruption and dishonesty. And this is why she will continue going to the polls and in effect vote for a dictatorial regime while hoping that the corruption and dishonesty will be eliminated. This is apparent from the large percentage participating in the elections.
The previous choice, Khatami, and the current, Ahmadinejad, both displayed elements of honesty and genuineness, though in completely opposing directions. The former leaning towards the democratic side while the latter leans towards dictatorship. It may seem inconsistent to those who advocate democracy but most Iranian voters are consistent in choosing honesty and integrity, even if it’s by a dictatorial leadership.
By definition the Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocratic dictatorship, and as long as Iranians go to the polls whether for the parliamentary or the presidential elections, they are voluntarily and consciously casting their votes for a theocratic and dictatorial system. In effect, all elections in Iran are a call for referendum whereby going to the polls is a yes vote and not going to the polls is essentially a no vote. Who is actually elected, within the larger picture, is almost irrelevant, as far as the system is concerned. That is why the outcome of these elections, over the years, has had a microscopic effect, evident from the economic problems and the growing dissent.
While we will be witnessing much fighting in the coming years, both between the corrupt and the non-corrupt, and the liberals and the conservatives, we must understand that there is no simple solution to the Iranian problem. However, one of the keys to success of a nation is controlling corruption.
Contrary to common belief a quick switch to a secular democracy will not guarantee success. True democracies require a high level of social maturity and that can not be obtained overnight. If the Guardian Council were removed tomorrow, there would be a leadership vacuum leading to chaos. At the same time because of its rigidity the regime has failed to produce effective AND respectable leaders.
One thing that is certain is that there is no simple answer. The other certainty is that the current regime’s existence does not depend on liberal views. It obtains most of its support from the conservative rural regions. Iran is not only upper Tehran. It is also southern Tehran, Kohkilouyeh, Zahedan, and thousands of small towns with very traditional populations.
Therefore, it makes sense to monitor the social progress and maturity of the people at the grass root level and in the rural areas. The existence of a permanent and powerful Guardian Council in real life (or a Shah in the old days) is a reflection of a craving for such an element in many people’s minds. Only when people outgrow that dependency shall we witness a dramatic change in Iran. And that’s when the real problems will actually begin.
Nevertheless, any significant change in the system will only become evident when there is a significant change in thinking pattern of the voters, especially in the provinces. Until then, as long as people continue going to the polls during any of the elections, the entire dictatorial system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is undeniably a legitimate representation of the Iranian people.
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