Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 13, 2013

Iran's Presidential Election - Why Ghalibaf Will Win

After the candidates for Iran's election presented themselves in in their short campaigns and three TV discussion rounds the polls have firmed up a bit and the picture becomes clearer.

On the side of the several "Principlists" in the race the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, is the strong leader. On the side of the "Reformists" the cleric Hassan Rowhani is now the sole candidate after the other candidate in that camp was pressed to stand down to thereby increase the chance for a reformist candidate reaching the second round of the vote. Rowhani has now taken the lead in the polls with some 30+ percent. The first election round on Friday will likely leave these two to run against each other in the second round a week later.

The Iranian political continuum does not fit well into the western left and right scheme. The principlists are socially conservative and in that fit into the western right wing camp. But their economic policies are socialist, or to the left, as the whole Iranian revolution has been about populist redistribution of Iran's oil wealth. The reformists camp appears socially more liberal but its economic policies are strongly market oriented with neo-liberal tendencies. Outgoing president Ahmedinejad was a mixture of these features. Economically he was a social-democrat who successfully introduced several redistribution programs. At the same time he was socially more liberal than the principlists establishment. The Iranian population, especially the relative poor people who form the majority, tends to be more socially conservative and more economically socialist than the usual western observer assume.

Western media had proclaimed that Saeed Jalili, the current negotiator over nuclear issues, as Supreme Leader Khamenei's favorite and the leading candidate. They fell for a campaign by Jalili himself who knew how to "manage" the western press. It did not work for him with the Iranian people. Now the western media will focus on the reformist Rowhani, who was endorsed by former presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami, and will try to proclaim him the leading candidate. Rowhani is likely to lose in the second round as the whole principlists vote share is about 2/3 of the total, though now split over several candidates, while the reformist vote share is about 1/3. But when Rowhani will lose the western media will likely declare, without any base in facts, that the elections were fraudulent.

The short Iranian election cycle, with only three weeks of campaigning allowed, makes it somewhat difficult for outsiders to "get a feeling" for who might be winning. Surprises are possible and polls may be wrong. Mohsen Rezaei may have some unknown support and beat Ghalibaf in the principlist position. But that would not change the greater picture. For now I do expect Ghalibaf to win and to then, like Ahmedinejad did, turn out to be more independent and unique than the west as well as the political establishment in Iran today expect.

Posted by b on June 13, 2013 at 17:38 UTC | Permalink


I should probably add some additional estimates just to see how well they might holdup.

1. round: Rowhani 35+%, Ghalibaf 25+%, others 15% and less, voter turnout 70%
2. round: Ghalibaf 53-60%, Rowhani 40-47%, voter turnout 80%

Posted by: b | Jun 13 2013 17:49 utc | 1

Meanwhile the sneaky gov. of Turkey having secret meetings with Israel.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 13 2013 18:16 utc | 2

First time I can see someone with exactly the same opinion as mine regarding Ahmedinejad and the whole Iranian political situation.

What I have to add is that Ahmedinejad is the first mainstream politician who is more or less independent of the clerics (who - in turn - hold the real power), and he's been trying to build a power center against them (a sort of "soft coup"). And basically this is the reason why his nominated successor has been ousted from the race.

Posted by: balu | Jun 13 2013 18:52 utc | 3

" only three weeks of campaigning allowed, makes it somewhat difficult for outsiders to "get a feeling" for who might be winning. Surprises are possible and polls may be wrong."

well said..

Posted by: Rd. | Jun 13 2013 18:55 utc | 4

If Ahmedinjead has built up institutions that can stand up to the clerics, the new president will use them. I find Iran to be an exciting and thriving society. I wish I could be present and witness things first hand. It's prohibitively costly to go there. Before the revolution, demonization and then punitive sanctions Iran received thousands of immigrants from all over the world. Hopefully they can break out of the thrall of the powers that be and take their rightful place amongst nations.

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 13 2013 19:04 utc | 5

I am not sure but....
Don't underestimate Ali Akbar Velayati as "rabbit in the hat" candidate he is a former Johns Hopkins University graduate.That means he could serve well in handling the N-issue with the US.He is also close to Rafsanjani (his former foreign minister too after serving under Khamenei`s rule) and it could be that there were some kind of deal befor Rafsanjani was dismissed from the GC (maybe why R. kept calm).worth to mention and maybe important for later: he criticized Ahmadinejad for the holocaust denial and sad in a interview to La Repubblica in february 2007:is the holocaust a historical reality "yes, but we dont accept this reality as a excuse for the opression of the palestinian people." can be served to the Tax-Paying Zombies and Revenue-Sucking Vampires in the west like somekind of The lesser of two evils principle.

Posted by: some1 | Jun 13 2013 19:33 utc | 6

"But when Rowhani will lose the western media will likely declare, without any base in facts, that the elections were fraudulent."

The "elections were fraudulent" rant has become so incredibly RETARDED that no one in his right mind would do anything but to laugh at such an absurdity.
If the elections are so fraudulent and to manipulate the ballots is so easy, then why on earth did Rafsanjani, put his candidacy? Why on earth did Khatami vote in the previous elections for Majlis?
No one could possibly claim that he knows the behind the scene events in 2009 better than Ahmadinejad himself. If he knows that it is so easy for the leader to manipulate the ballots and bring his own puppet out of the ballot box then why on earth did he even get Mashaei to nominate himself, when it was obvious that the leader and the principlists despised him?
And most importantly if it is so easy to manipulate the ballots, then what would be the need for the Guardian Council to eliminate the unwanted candidates?
In fact while GC in its absolute contempt for the will of the Iranian society, is insulting the Iranian nation's choice to an indescribable extent, to talk about "fraudulent ballots" reminds me of this joke:

People come to this guy telling him: "Man, how can you put up with this shit? Your neighbour has taken your wife to his orchard and is carrying on with her brazenly in front of every passer by!"
And the guy replies back: "My god how much can you people exaggerate? You call that small piece of land with only one apple tree, an 'orchard'?"

Voting in this election for any candidate, will have first and foremost one meaning and one meaning only:
The voter does not have enough self-respect to even care that some one is insulting him and taking away his choice of candidate.
Voting would be tantamount to a woman who is being raped and let alone putting up any resistance she fakes an orgasm.

Those who are very passionate about one or a few of the candidates, remember that your time too will come sooner or later (just as Ahmadinejad's did), your voting today means that you give your consent to GC (and the leader) to be your masters, nay, OWNERS.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 13 2013 20:01 utc | 7


The voter does not have enough self-respect to even care that some one is insulting him and taking away his choice of candidate.

the same for green,orange,velvet,arab .....revolutions and those who are very passionate about the Leaders musavi,aun sa suki,julia timoschenko,Mustafa Abdul Dschalil,.....and other donkey whisperers?
Dont get me wrong I consider myself in some regards as a donky too. What I mean is (good intended but bad educated masses and the consumption hungry and brainfucked elites from the upper class who have never lived in one of the desired countrys as a real citizen with social and political aspirations)look at those in Norway do they get somthing else than in lets say Turky?)
is there a choise or a reason to be passionate about candidates in the EU-States the US or the UK or Russia?
In regard to Iran who is doing the best for the country regarding the geopolitical circumstances now and in the future. All governments are fooling their people voters servants or vasals.
In the western democracies they view the world with the blue eyes of individualists so everyone cares for himself, this brings the conclusion that Iran and arab democracy-aspirants are more like Malaysia or Indonesia where Human rights are suffering because there exists a political islam.If you listen to people who were older and setteled in the late 70s in Iran they will tell you why the people wanted a political islam.And those in Agypt who didnt get it or achieved it ended up as islamists ala Sawahiri.

Posted by: some1 | Jun 13 2013 21:06 utc | 8

Democracy - on a national level - *is* but a farce, a major part of the "circences" in "panem et circences". And it's by no means a coincidence that the pre-revolution shah was put into power by the "democratic" amricans.

At least in troubled times a people needs wise, prudent and experienced men as leaders.

The Iranian leadership have made some errors, no doubt. But all in all they have done an excellent job steering the Iranian ship through very troubled waters with criminal thugs around their country.

rowani being endorsed by rafsanjani is basically a devils mark.
I agree with b that many will vote for rowani because he seems to be more liberal and friendly (toward the west, too, no doubt ...) but in the end he won't win (and even he did, it would be in the best interest of the Iranians to have him on a very short leash or, even better, get rid of him).

If Ghalibaf isn't stupid, he will beat on rowanis weakness of being linked to a billionair traitor - and win.

Frankly, I don't worry a lot about the elections. My main concern is whether the Iranian leaders will take care of rafsanjani and his traitor friends once and for all.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 13 2013 21:18 utc | 9

To : Pragma

Rowhani will lose and with that Rafsanjani will lose.
I think first round votes for top3 candidates are close.

Posted by: Loyal | Jun 13 2013 22:38 utc | 10

"For now I do expect Ghalibaf to win and to then, like Ahmedinejad did, turn out to be more independent and unique than the west as well as the political establishment in Iran today expect."

b touches a very interesting and often neglected point here. I will first elaborate on why I find it a very interesting point and then I will add a point of my own to it.

As limited as the competition between the presidential candidates may be (due to GC's right to precede over the will of people on who can or can not be elected), presidents feel that they have run a campaign with a mandate and people have voted for them but no sooner than they take the office they face the reality that they actually do not have much of power and there is an unelected boss (ie. the supreme leader)on their top who watches their every move and even the most trivial decisions that they make are contingent on his approval. Therefore, there rise a tension. The man thinks (as much as he may not want to show it outwardly) "I have a mandate and the vote of people and this guy who has never been elected and has little worry about being elected, sees in himself the right to control my every move."
So b is right, who ever is the next "president" chances are that he too will try to be "independent" and "unique".

But there is more:

The next president will have observed the experience of Ahmadinejad and what happened to him (he was not even *allowed* to go on TV and defend his government against the attacks by the "candidates"). He will know that he may have a mandate approved by people, but even his candidacy for the next term is contingent on how "submissive" the political establishment finds him.

By the way it is interesting to note the following fact, here are the list of presidents/prime minister Iran has had and the political establishment's judgement about them:

1) Bani Sadr (Pres)
2) Rajaei (pres)/Bahonar (PM)
3) Khamenei (Pres)
4) Mousavi (PM)
5) Rafsanjani (Pres)
6) Khatami (Pres)
7) Ahmadinejad (Pres)

#1 He was removed from presidency and had to run away from Iran for his life. He is pretty much described by the establishment as the devil himself.
#2 Both were assassinated a few months after coming to power and since they are conveniently dead, there is no reason to demonize them.
#3 He is currently the supreme leader calling the shots and therefore beyond criticism.
#4 He is living under house arrest and is known (correctly in my opinion) as "head of Fetneh"
#5 He is portrayed as (again correctly IMO) one of the most corrupt people in Iran, he was not even qualified to stand for the election.
#6 He too has been demonized and is considered as another "head of fetneh"
#7 He is considered to be a "deviant" in league with the "heretic movement" (ie. Mashaei and co.) and some people even speculated that he has been the victim of possible sorcery by Mashaei!!

One word of advice for the next "president": be very careful sir, being the president in Iran is a very precarious business!! :-)

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 14 2013 0:55 utc | 11

"I have a mandate and the vote of people and this guy who has never been elected and has little worry about being elected, sees in himself the right to control my every move."

As this comes up again and again in one form or another, let me ask a simple question:

Is there any proof whatsoever that "democratically elected" leaders are wiser, more capable or even just care more about peoples needs?

What does "democratically elected" basically come down to? It's about mass over quality and, to be fair, >90% of the voters do not even have the know-how and capability to properly understand and judge political issues.

Now, suppose, you daughter were seriously ill. Would you rather have her treated by the best doctor available or by whomever a faceless mass of people elect for that job?

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 14 2013 1:10 utc | 12

Excellent point Mr. Pragma! Why bother going to the faceless mass of people at all then? Obviously we have a very wise leader, and a GC which is expert in deciding who is qualified or not qualified for becoming elected into any office, why should we go to people at all? GC and the Supreme Leader are best qualified to appoint the president!

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 14 2013 1:20 utc | 13

I know virtually nothing about Iran’s politics, other than following the medias take, and that varies. All I know the outcome is important internally and externally, like all election, and it's only post election time to see the outcomes.

My basic observations: Iran’s elections is democratic in ways, example; unlike the US, Iranians candidates do not represent only two political groups. On the other hand, all groups come under a single umbrella, the Shah, and that kills the democratic value.

The express timeframe is also a limitation, voters just can’t get a grip, 3 weeks. Granted the US is excessive, and is a huge waste of money and distracts from Governance.

In a nut-shell, all elections are marred, tainted, have corruption; the proof as I feel is what the 'new' leadership does for the better, if they are given that allowance being under that 'Umbrella'.

Posted by: kev | Jun 14 2013 2:00 utc | 14


15 to 20 years ago some circles in the US and the West started targeting politically the institution of the Leader in Iran. Those political "directives" have now become the MSM talking points and the backbone of the propaganda they are driving against the interests of Iran.

If your objective is the rule of law, further openness of the political arena and more participation of the majority in deciding their future and those of their children, it is not the Leadership institution which is an obstacle on the way. It is mainly the massive military buildup around the country and the figurative occupation of the iranian political space by forces that are alien to it's domestic polity.

You should recall that the monarchy in the UK, representing the head of the state, the military and the Anglican church, is the institution bringing legitimacy to the structure of the political power, It is not the one fighting the politics. The institution of the leadership in Iran can be thought of in somehow the same vein, although in its early days.

Attacking publicly the leadership today can only be interpreted objectively as an effort with the aim of undermining the base (legitimacy) of the structure of power in Iran, pulling at the same lever as the West and its acolytes in the region and their henchmen in the MSM.

Posted by: ATH | Jun 14 2013 3:14 utc | 15

@pirouz_2 but no sooner than they take the office they face the reality that they actually do not have much of power and there is an unelected boss (ie. the supreme leader)

The supreme leader is not "unelected" nor is he all powerful.

Posted by: b | Jun 14 2013 4:43 utc | 16

b @16;
He is elected and can be removed only by the assembly of the experts. Assembly of the experts is itself elected by the people but the candidates for the assembly of experts are vetted by the GC.
Now GC itself has 12 members, 6 of them are directly appointed by the leader, the other 6 are elected by the parliament but there is a catch:
Parliament can only elect the 6 from a list provided to it by the head of judiciary, and the head of judiciary himself is appointed by the leader!
So the only body in charge of supervising/electing the leader (ie. assembly of the experts) can only be elected from vetted candidates by a GC which itself is appointed by the leader!
As to leader not being all powerful, I agree that it is not all leader and leader only. There is a clique of power, whose center of gravity is the leader.
Personally I think that IR can be divided into two parts:
IR1: the time until Mr. Rafsanjani's second term. I see this time as one of the darkest most oppressive times in Iran. By any measure IR under Mr. Khoemini could be described as only dictatorship.
IR2: From towards the end of Rafsanjani's second term until the presidential elections in 2013. During this time the IR started to increasingly incline towards being a system based on competitive elections. The candidates were being vetted but those who were within the system were being allowed to participate.

In my opinion this all changed from 2013 on moving back towards IR1 (still is not as bad as that time though):
GC (appointed directly and indirectly by the leader) has become the tool in the hands of the principlist camp to ensure that they win all the elections with no meaningful competition to face. Any body who may stand a meaningful chance to beat the principlists gets conveniently disqualified.
During IR2 there was an oligarchy ruling the country yes, but the oligarchy was bigger than it is today. Pretty much everyone has been eliminated from the clique of power except for the principlist camp.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 14 2013 10:52 utc | 17

The losers already begun their propaganda and saying " IF Rowhani wouldn't be the victories that mean IRI changed the result " ...

no one really care about their candidate in small cities ( the majority of Iran voter ) because they are bunch of wealthy groups who think Iran is their kingdom and Iranian are their slaves ... and most of their fans always ignore regular Iranians ....

another thing is that so Called reformist always bashed Rowhani and Hashemi( for more than 16 years !!! ) but now for sake of power they make an alliance and their fans think other people are blind and can't see their true face ...

about western media , well , Rowhani already referred USA as " Master of World " and that why Western Media support him !!!

Posted by: A Person | Jun 14 2013 15:28 utc | 18

@12 "Now, suppose, you daughter were seriously ill. Would you rather have her treated by the best doctor available or by whomever a faceless mass of people elect for that job?"

Your option sounds like the American healthcare system. Suppose the people who appointed the "best" doctor were other doctors whose main goal in life was to sexually abuse their patients?

What if the Fortune 500 appointed the US President, how would that turn out? Obama would likely look like Franklin Roosevelt compared to the snake that came out of that process.

The United States most certainly attempts to corrupt the democratic processes throughout the world, but that is a reason to be vigilant and create laws (like Putin has) to prevent foreign interference in your countries political process - it is not a reason to take toss out all respect for consent of the governed.

The Iranian people overthrew the Shah for a reason obviously. Keeping the system responsive to their will helps prevent the rise of another.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 14 2013 16:20 utc | 19

"The people" *is* a faceless mass. Cynically, the best proof can be found in the "1st. class democracies" in Europe and zusa.

The problem with democracy starts with its very root; if the (vast majority of) people had the knowledge, mind, and interest necessary to make reasonable and informed choices in the first place, those choice wouldn't need to be made because then the people had the capability to govern themselves.

A second issue is human nature; humans strongly tend to care about tangible and close-by issues. The roads in our city are tangible and close by; foreign policy issues typically are neither. That's why democracy works quite well on a local or, at most, regional level but not on a national or higher level or, roughly speaking, it works best within a +-20 km radius (roughly the distance a human can cross comfortably by feet in a day), it still works reasonably well within a 100 - 150 km radius and it doesn't work or works badly for higher distances. Similarly, it works well with physically tangible issues (like roads), still works reasonably well with widely tangible (for the vast majority) issues (like "time needed to arrive at work place", "importance of communication, education, etc.") and doesn't work well with anything beyond that (like "how should our currency be valued against neighbouring currencies?")

Actually, frighteningly many voters even vote on "gut feelings" or based on what they feel when seeing the face of a candidate only or almost exclusively.

No accusations intented. They are not guilty or stupid; they simply are humans and act accordingly.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 14 2013 23:50 utc | 20

( ... continued ...)

And how *could* they judge politics when even experts often enough have widely diverging views on complex topics? After all, most humans must and want work, bring up children, in short, live their lifes.

The american constitution provides and emminently important hint: the principle of "checks and balances" or, in other words and from a certain perspective, the necessity of control or, even better, a self-regulating mechanism.

Such mechanisms are found and commonplace in both nature and technology. Yet almost every (political) system and government works and tries hard to avoid or even abolish any counterforce. Sometimes in "subtle" ways and sometimes bluntly like Erdogan simply and bluntly having unwelcome press people and lawyers arrested, shot or otherwise disposed of.

Possibly the most important issue, however, is the balance between power and responsibilty.

In monarchies that's a simple issue. All power is with the king and so is in the end responsibility, sometimes ending with a knive in his heart.
In democracies, however, the balance is almost always heavily disturbed or simply absent. Investigations melt away in increasingly diffuse mutual allegations, comittees and the like or guilt is simply attributed to the (then suddenly) "souvereign", the people. When a politician (in a democracy) talks about acting based on and following the voters mandate, he either is luring votes in pre-election time or he is pushing responsibility away.

It's not simply by hazard therefore that leaders who actually do good things for their countries and people (think Putin, Chavez, Khameini) are usually to be found on the "eek, bad guy" pages of current history while the worst and corrupt criminals tend to be found as glowing idols.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 15 2013 0:09 utc | 21

Last count:
: Saturday
Vote count: 861,866
1- Rowhani 47% 401949
2- Ghalibaf :15% 126896

Posted by: Loyal | Jun 15 2013 1:27 utc | 22

@Mr. Pragman those are the classic reasoning against democracy given by the US thinkers who destroyed the whole concept.

You are right about the problems, but those are not problems of democracy - they are problems of capitalism. And real democracy cannot exist along side a predatory capitalism where, as you said, people not only must work are too busy to understand what is going on in their lives, but are constantly at the receiving end of the propaganda of the ruling class bent on destroying their social power. In fact, this is much the point of why capitalism drives people to desperation - so they don't have time to take control of their own lives.

People can though, if given the time, the education, the tools - handle the decision making. I firmly believe this, and I believe it has been proven in Latin America. Especially if you start at the neighborhood level and work the decisions up from there. It has nothing to do with smarts or knowledge, it has everything to do with the architecture of the system. Yes, ask someone what they think about something called the "TransPacific Partnership" bombard them with bizarre attack ads and ask them for money, and they'll go scurrying for the exit. Ask them if they want their neighbor to lose his job and corporations to take over the local water system, and even the least bright fellow can manage his way through that.

At the end there you name someone completely devoted to democracy - Hugo Chavez. That is democracy as it is intended to operate. And it is the way the world has been moving in for a while now. There is hardly a country left in which elections aren't held and the people asked. And no matter how bad the system might be, that is certainly better than not having them.

The alternative is a situation like North Korea, where you have to have continuity of leadership because you have entrenched power centers who all are at each others throats and so select the option they know - the son of the old ruler. This kind of status quo conservatism is crippling and leads to major corruption.

But please don't confuse the farce that occurs in the US for democracy. And don't confuse the poor countries that try to have democracy but get steamrolled by US funding of fake opposition groups. None of this is democracy. Maybe then the question could be "then what is it" and all I can say is it is a goal of ensuring that people share power to rule their country, state, city, and neighbor hood in the best interests of themselves and their fellow citizens. Maybe it's just a difference of opinion, but I do believe people can accomplish this if they are not interfered with.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 15 2013 6:50 utc | 23


Well, Iranian elections have a fantastic habit of confounding everyone's expectations; I think this has a lot do with a widespread void in actual knowledge of or intimate experience in Iran. As of this morning, it's looking like Rouhani may win outright on the first round, and if he doesn't, is a shoe-in on the second round.

Per official releases thus far, Rowhani is outpolling Qalibaf by about 3.5-4 to 1.

Posted by: dan | Jun 15 2013 9:51 utc | 24

Last count:
: Saturday
Vote count: 32189621
1- Rowhani 50+% 16,413281
2- Ghalibaf :15% 5,073652

Posted by: Loyal | Jun 15 2013 14:52 utc | 25

IT'S final

Posted by: Loyal | Jun 15 2013 15:59 utc | 26

Hassan Rouhani: 50.71% (18,613,329 votes)
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf: 16.56% (6,077,292 votes)
Saeed Jalili: 11.36% (4,168,946 votes)

Moderate cleric Rouhani elected president of Iran – Interior Minister

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jun 15 2013 21:29 utc | 27

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