Iranian election roundup, 9 June 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three days left!

Repercussions from the Mousavi-Ahmanidejad debate are still going on, with Rafsanjani (that's the former president that Ahmadinejad accused of being a kind of puppet master in the election) drafting a letter to the Supreme Leader to protest.

Karroubi says he won't drop out - makes sense, since during the first round having two candidates on the reformist side means more turnout there, which means more dilution of the vote for Ahmadinejad. I like this part of the Iranian presidential system, as it means there is no Ralph Nader-like spoiler effect where one candidate can siphon away just enough votes to let a worse candidate pull ahead and win the presidency. If voting goes to a second round then certainly Karroubi voters will go for Mousavi then, and with more gusto this time given that they were given the chance to vote for their favourite candidate first and thus don't feel betrayed by a lack of choice.

Ahmadinejad is going to be given 45 minutes of extra airtime to respond to parts of the debates he didn't attend where his name and policies were brought up.

Here are some pictures and video of the huge human chain of Mousavi supporters in Tehran yesterday (thanks to The Unknower's comment yesterday)

Many of Iran's war vets switching their support from Ahmadinejad to Mousavi

Rezaei says he'll restore decency to politics - Rezaei has admittedly ran quite a good campaign so far. Usually those looking to draw support away from other more popular candidates are the most shrill in an election, but Rezaei has managed to come across looking quite presidential here.

The New York Times has an article on the election and the issue of the economy, including a reference to the debate between Ahmadinejad and Karroubi that I wrote about here. Karroubi started out the debate with a bit of a drawn-out statement that didn't really go anywhere, but after Ahmadinejad's first statement it was like he was hit with a shot of adrenalin. Karroubi put on the most lively performance of all the debates here. You can see this for yourself - here's Karroubi during his first statement, and here he is during the second. It's the pen in the hand that makes all the difference.

Iran's election becomes a referendum on Ahmadinejad - Miami Herald

A female CBC reporter goes to Iran, gets all veiled up when leaving the plane, wonders if she is covered up enough - then sees that Iranian women don't cover themselves up half as much as she does and suddenly feels a bit dowdy in her ultra-conservative dress

Finally, let's take a look at some numbers. The election in 2005 where Ahmadinejad won had a turnout of 63% in the first round and 45% in the second, a very low turnout for an election in Iran. Reformists are hoping for a high turnout this time, and some officials are predicting record turnout for this election. A poll here from last month (that's before all the debates and most of the excitement on the streets right now) finds that nearly 90% plan to vote. In addition to that, the population in Iran with access to the internet is now 23 million, compared to a mere 7.5 million last time, and mobile phone ownership has gone from 40% to somewhere around 75% today.


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