Iran: Mousavi claims he won the presidency

Via Reuters:

Former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi said he was the “definite winner” in Iran’s presidential election on Friday against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran’s president is elected by two-round majority. There are other candidates, so a runoff could be required, as it was four years ago when Ahmadinejad was elected to his first term.

One of the other candidates is Mehdi Karroubi, who narrowly missed the 2005 runoff, being edged by Ahmadinejad by less than two percentage points. Ahmadinejad in 2005 won only 20.3% of the vote in the first round, to 22% for former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad won the runoff 63.4-36.6.

Of course, Iran is by no means a democracy, and the presidency controls the interior ministry, which is responsible for the administration of elections. So official election results have to be taken with caution. Still, it is a lot easier to steal a close election, such as 2005, when Ahmadinejad’s second-place finish in the first round was considered a “surprise,” and Karroubi alleged fraud. In this election, we are unlikely to see a surprise second-round contender, as we did in 2005 (if a runoff is even needed this time). However, if results show Ahmadinejad narrowly ahead, we can expect suspicions to be rife–especially considering the “unprecedented” turnout. Iran may not be a democracy, but there is a lot of interest in this election.

The interest extends to expatriates, who are eligible to vote. This surprised me, as I would have imagined that expatriates would be more likely to be opponents of the regime, and denied voting rights for that reason.

I have previously discussed Iran’s unusual brew of authoritarianism with quite competitive elections. Just click “Iran” in the “planted in” line above, and scroll.

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