The Iranian parliamentary pseudo- quasi-elections are finally over and, surprise, the “moderates” did not do well. The spring is a few days away and Norouz is around the corner. Here are a few sayings that I find very seasonally a propos regarding the recent non-electoral experience in Iran and the moderates’ aspirations
One saying is bozak namir bahar miyad, konbozeh ba khiyar miyad. It is a promise to a goat that with spring will arrive the watermelon and cucumber that he desires. The poor “moderates” keep hoping that one day their turn will come at the goodies of power, only to be reminded of another saying. This one is a bit more elaborate: shotor dar khab binad panpeh daneh, gahi lolof khorad, gahi daneh daneh. It speaks of a camel’s dream of cotton seeds, which he could wolf down or eat one seed at a time. The “moderates” and all their well-wishers in Iran and abroad cannot stop dreaming. My favorite saying that best describes this eternal wait for political change is — An gadar bae ist ta zir payat alaf sabs shavad. Remain standing long enough until grass grows under your feet. As we all know, that is not possible.
What I do not understand is why the “moderates” are so hellbent on capturing the parliament. Did they not have the majority and the presidency a few years back and could do nothing – haman ash bood o haman kaseh – nothing changed, it was the same old stew and kettle.
The “moderate” in Iranian politics is a nokhodi. Nokhodi is a person of no consequence who is nevertheless allowed to be a part of play. Every Iranian pupil knows this first hand: when teams are selected for contest and all the good players are picked one after another, the remaining weaker players, who can hardly effect the cause or outcome of the game, are picked to be on the team. They are the pathetic ones who run a round with a serious purpose in their stride but never get the ball, and no opportunity to score or do anything redeeming. Many nokhodis eventually get the message and sit out. The moderates in Iran have not reached that level of school age enlightenment and awareness.
The regime in Iran allows the nokhodi moderate to play in an inconsequential role. It takes the sting out of criticism that the system is very much a soviet-style electoral process. It also balances something in the universe, a lip service to moderates who will not oppose the hardliners but are willing to play ball with them.
In my youth the nokhodis eventually got the message. They stopped being played, so others could look fair in the eyes of the school disciplinarian. They sat out altogether.
Nothing will undermine the legitimacy of the Iranian regime than hoards of people just staying away from the polls. The true moderates require to isolate themselves from the electoral process to such and extent and numbers that the regime would have to begin to fear how else will they let off steam.