Iran’s election wasn’t about moderation or democracy


The elections in Iran confirm that the Syrian crisis has taught Iranians who are otherwise eager for change a few lessons, Harvard University researcher Amir Mahdavi writes for The Washington Post:

First, dissidents reason that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could harshly suppress Syria’s dissidents, similar behavior on the part of the Iranian regime is not at all unlikely. In addition, the same regional beneficiaries who have brought Syria to the edge of disintegration by contributing negatively to the crisis in that country could also endanger the territorial integrity of Iran. Finally, with the exception of Tunisia, the Arab Spring has not been as fruitful as the revolutionaries hoped it would be.

Generally, the Arab Spring has affected two generations of Iranians — those who experienced either the 1979 Islamic Revolution or the 2009 Green Movement — to the extent that they are less inclined to hold street protests. Instead, they choose to sustain the revolutionary essence of the Islamic Republic through internationalization and economic and cultural exchange with the West. Therefore, despite the Guardian Council’s historic disqualification of candidates, voters in Tehran sent the whole pro-Rouhani list to parliament. Remarkably, 20 of the 30 members of the list were completely unknown to the public and brand new in the political arena. This spoke to the ultimate goal of removing the anti-nuclear-deal representatives from parliament rather than replacing them with the best candidates.

“Iran’s new political alignment augurs less violent and more slow-paced change, and it lacks any theoretical or doctrinal definition,” Mahdavi writes for The Post’s Monkey Cage blog. “But it is real — and especially in light of the diversity of the internationalization movement with regard to age and social values, may ensure that change in Iran is, for the present, likely to be more focused on the quality of daily life. It is the triumph of Airbus over democracy.”

While the government and its supporters clearly won a sweeping victory in the capital, the picture in the rest of the country is much more diffuse and may remain that way for some time, if not permanently, according to The New York Times (HT: FPI).

The elections won’t make the regime more pliable, and they won’t change the need for a U.S. counter to its aggressions, The Washington Post adds.

Unfortunately for the Iranians, and for us, the future is bound to bring far more ideological continuity than meaningful change in the Islamic Republic, analyst Ilan Berman writes for USA Today.

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