Our time in New York prevented me from following the first round of the Iranian Presidential elections in the detail I might otherwise have indulged, but I’m glad to be able to follow the run-offs a little more closely.
It was disconcerting to wake up this morning to hear NPR continually referring to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani as ‘moderate.’ It’s the same sort of political spin that left this European bemused at the attacks on the “liberal”, “left-wing” Democrats in last year’s US Presidential election. When your opposition is quite that conservative, almost anyone can look moderate and liberal.
The high turnout in the first round was surprising, but it’s no surprise that it is the conservatives who are in the ascendency. Many of the middle-class voters who went for Khatami last time around have become disillusioned as his attempts at reform have been blocked time and again. Positive changes have come, but they are subtler than many would have liked, and that has led to considerable electoral apathy amongst those of a reformist bent.
For those looking to get a more personal account than the media is offering, this article about Hoder is a good starting point. The apparent initiator of Iranian blogging has just been back to Tehran and is writing at length about the candidates and the political forces at play.