There Are No Such Things as ‘Elections’ in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran is going to hold two “elections” simultaneously on February 26, 2016: Parliamentary elections, and elections for the Assembly of Experts.
Since the Revolution of 1979, Iran’s form of government has been a tripartite system based on Montesquieu’s so-called “division of powers” — much like the government of the United States. However, there is a catch: the constitutional office of the Supreme Leader stands above this tripartite division. He also leads the Guardian Council, which ensures the “compatibility” of laws with the “teachings of Islam.” This Council is also the body that vets the candidates for all kinds of elections in Iran — and bans those who disagree with the Supreme Leader.
Therefore, the government in Iran, although it has the appearance of a “democracy,” is in effect a “theocratic oligarchy” where the Supreme Leader reigns supreme.
In order to maintain the façade of “democracy,” the regime in Iran every once in a while holds some sort of “elections” — whose outcomes are mostly “preordained,” by the way — to give Iranians the appearance of choice and to placate the international community.
Consequently, it is crucial for the regime in Iran to pull the populace towards the polls. Nevertheless, as the regime keeps alienating the people due to its highly dictatorial nature, it needs to go to extreme lengths to attract people. This time, they want Iranians to come out and show their support for the regime because of the Iranian nuclear deal.
If the regime receives a large turnout as a result of that boost (and its claims that sanctions relief will benefit the people), it will go on suppressing its people’s legitimate demands, as well as making more illegitimate demands on the international community, based on the “popular backing” it has at home.
However, as most of the released Iranian assets will cover the government’s international and domestic debts — and payment to terror proxies — only the dregs of the assets are likely to find their way to the hard-pressed people of Iran. That’s why there was not much cheer in the streets and on social media when the news of the sanctions relief was announced. Additionally, popular enthusiasm for the elections is also at a low ebb.
These elections will be a sham. And the international community needs to support the oppressed people of Iran, not their despotic leaders.