The 2017 election of Iran’s regime has ended with Hassan Rouhani being re-elected as President for his second term. The impact of this election on Iran and its people may seem nominal on the surface, but a deeper look shows that the regime is dealing with an internal crisis. In addition, the Iranian people themselves are chafing under the continued repression of basic freedoms, such as freedom of the press, freedom to gather and the freedom of religion.
In an interview with the Chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee, Mohammad Mohaddessin, he gave an analysis of the election, its turnout and where the regime goes from here.
Part of the disconnect for the international community is knowing what is really going on in Iran. There are conflicting reports, with some suggesting growing public discontent, while Tehran claims a high voter turnout suggests widespread support for the regime.
“Popular discontent is indisputable. It is a fact which no one can deny. For 38 years, the people of Iran have been denied their basic freedom, not only in politics, but also in their social and private lives. They have been brutally suppressed. Tens of thousands have been executed. Many more have been imprisoned. When it comes to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and other general freedoms, Iran ranks among the very bottom of the list,” said Mohaddessin.
He went on to point out that the word election has a different meaning in a country being ruled by an absolute dictatorship. “It is in truth a ‘selection’ and not an election. Look at the case of Iran. The allegiance of the candidates to the Supreme Leader in words and deeds has already been approved,” said Mohaddessin.
It is important to note that although there were two different candidates with the appearance of different ideologies, both candidates support the absolute rule of the clergy and have been decision makers within the regime since its inception. The regime is struggling with how to maintain power, but they do not fundamentally disagree that they want to keep the power over the people. However, with the increasing discontent among Iranians, the focus has become how to maintain the religious fascism ruling the country. It is still a rogue state and one just has to look at its human rights record to see evidence of that.
Additionally, this election has shown that Khamenei has lost clout in so far as he can’t just dictate who will win the election without serious internal objections. Raisi was known to the Iranian people as a murderer, so although he was Khamenei’s first choice, his election could have led to a major uprising. Internally, members of the regime were distancing themselves from Raisi and his reputation. In the end, Rouhani became the safe choice and consequently, he won.
“He [Rouhani] cannot make any change even if he wanted because in this regime, the president does not have much power. He is simply an enabler to get some logistics done and act as a good servant for the Supreme Leader, who holds the absolute power…the whole system is irreformable. The system is based on the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader. Supremacy of the clergy, misogyny, intolerance of other views and disrespect for religious minorities are part and parcel of the regime. Even a simple issue such as the right of women to freely choose their own clothing is considered a national security matter,” said Mohaddessin.
In the end, the election has only showcased the internal divisions of the regime and it’s fight for survival in a world that no longer tolerates it’s level of extremism and medieval rule.