Debates over the election turnout will not change a single person’s mind. Least important is what foreigners or regime spokesmen claim. Most important is what Iranians believe.
Alas for the regime, nothing has shaped public perceptions as much as the Great Fraud of 2009 and subsequent crackdown. An Iranian majoroty firmly believes the recent turnout was vastly lower than regime figures. They also know even that limited turnout was deceptive since it counts millions forced to vote by armtwisting and others who voted only because of unsustainable bribes or subsidies. What does either motive have to do with “endorsing” the regime? Already, threatened voters are telling everyone they know about the pressures brought to bear.
Who do you think the average Iranian will believe–regime spokesmen or folks they know and trust personally?
“Saw it with my own eyes” evidence is also causing jeers today. Foreign journalists might be limited to “escorted” Potemkin Village tours, but most Iranians were free to wander. Many visited neighborhoods with virtually empty polling places or talked to friends in communities far distant.
Either way, will turnout figures matter for long when everything grows worse at an accelerating pace in a country where people see no future–either economically or in terms of persona and political freedoms? I especially recommend two separate analyses of the election and its consequences. One is by Scott Lucas and the other by Josh Shahayer. For that see: