Saturday, June 13, 2009

Free and fair or flee and fear?

One day we shall call
Together all human beings
With their (respective) Imams:
Those who are given their record
In their right hand
Will read it (with pleasure),
And they will not be
Dealt with unjustly
In the least - Section 8, 17th Sura, The Qur-an

While the petit election in Mt Albert settles into its own fait accompli, less passe elections in Iran are happening. With record turnouts around the country on Friday, expectations were for a rally in the vote for the un-Ahmadinejad candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. So reports that Ahmadinejad has received 65 percent of the vote with 80 percent counted, the provisional result of the grand election in Iran is raising eyebrows.

Mousavi is trailing at 32.6 percent, leaving Ahmadinejad the "definite winner" and avoiding a run-off in a week's time. The result also means that the other two candidates, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezai and former Speaker Mehdi Karroubi got less than 4 percent of the vote between them.

Compare this with the much more fractured first ballot from the 2005 elections:
While pre-voting polls mostly favored a run-off between Rafsanjani and Mostafa Moeen[citation needed], the actual vote counts from the Ministry of Interior unexpectedly put Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mehdi Karroubi in second and third places. Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad led with respectively 21.0% and 19.5% of the votes, and were followed by Karroubi (17.3%), Moeen (13.93%) , Ghalibaf (13.89%), Larijani (5.9%), and Mehralizadeh (4.4%)
The election is run by Iran's Interior Ministry. Not sure what access party scrutineers have in polling booths, but international observers are banned from reporting on the transparency of election results. RealClearWorld has a list of ways the vote could be rigged, y'know, if one was tempted. Memri has more.

The Huff Post has a good round-up of the current shape of things:

Mousavi appealed to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to intervene and stop what he said were violations of the law. Khamenei holds ultimate political authority in Iran. "I hope the leader's foresight will bring this to a good end," Mousavi said.

Mousavi said some polling stations were closed early with people still waiting to vote, that voters were prevented from casting ballots and that his observers were expelled from some counting sites.

Authorities "should not assume that by manipulating people's vote and staying in power for a day, for a year or two, (they) can win people's satisfaction," he said.

During the voting, some communications across Iran were disrupted. Internet connections slowed dramatically in some spots, hindering the operations of news organizations including The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear what had caused the disruptions.

About a dozen Ahmadinejad supporters pelted a Mousavi office in Tehran with tear gas canisters, but no one was injured, said Saeed Shariati, head of Mousavi's Web campaign. The attack could not be independently confirmed.

It's not over til the Ayatollah signs. There's got to be a recount. The human record cannot be dealt with unjustly, otherwise you might as well do away with elections. If they're not free and fair, what are they?