Massive attention was given to the Iranian presidential elections, by media outlets, think-tanks and pundits. The coverage was split between those calling the elections fraudulent and insignificant to those relating to the elections as a turning point in Iran’s development and as the key to the future of Iran. Both sides are displayed before our readers. Our readers can determine who is right.
The wsj termed the elections a non-choice, due to the pre selection and prior narrowing of options. Asharq Al-Awsat called the elections a sham, discrediting Rouhani and his so-called achievements. alarabiya follows suit, terming them sham elections, with no resemblance to any decent election process in the world. In another wsj article they highlight the fact that for minorities in Iran, the elections have no meaning, as “whoever wins, the minorities lose”. The WSJ determines that given that every candidate was handpicked by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s Guardian Council, nothing good will come from these elections for the minorities. Some are so damning of the elections that they call for a boycott of the elections (see wsj) or call them fraudulent. Some European parliamentarians (156 according to the last count) have even launched a joint declaration declaring that the elections are a fraud due to the lack of freedom and fairness (see nowruziran).
On the other side of the spectrum, are those who try to read tremendous significance in the elections.
In an alternative wsj article they see the elections as a type of high stakes Armageddon show-down between two divergent visions – between the hardliners and the moderates. Ignoring the former articles which belittle the reality of Rouhani’s real moderacy, and his power to bring change even if he wanted to. Bloomberg tries to infuse significance in the elections in their article titled “What’s at stake in Iran’s presidential elections”, viewing the elections as a referendum on the policies of Rouhani (the nuclear deal, engagement with the west, economic issues etc). An interesting angle is the washingtoninstitute analysis which sees the elections as a test to the stability of the entire system in Iran, as the hardliners are rejected.
An additional bloomberg article views the election as the key to the future of Iran – impacting the future strategic path and even the identity of the next supreme leader. They quote an analyst narrowing the strategic paths as a Russian route or Chinese route, or “Putin or Xiaoping”.
Perhaps it is more beneficial to highlight observations of pinpointed developments in these elections. The fact that Rouhani declared war on Iran’s deep state and won. The fact that boundaries were pushed without precedent or, as observed by the washingtoninstitute, that the political irrelevance of the clergy has been exemplified in these elections.
We can assume that only future will tell how significant these elections were.