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June 05, 2005

I shall vote
Yaser Kerachian  [info|posts]

moeen.JPG Yesterday, on June 4th, Iranian Association at the University of Toronto held a lecture on the upcoming presidential election by Mr. Mousavi Khoeini, the former reformist member of Iran's 6th parliament. It was very ironic that the speaker who had come from Iran urged the audience to boycott the election, whereas many of the Iranians who live in Canada argued against him by saying that participation in the election is the best way among all the possible ways.

Mr Mousavi's argument, like most of the others who support the boycott strategy, was that people's participation would only strengthen the legitimacy of the current regime. The president cannot do much in the power structure of Iran and a reformist president such as Dr. Moeen would only increase the tensions among different parts of the power. This would finally end up the country with a non-efficient government. However if people boycott the election, the coservative leadership loses its legitimacy and will give up to the people's will.

In my opinion, Mr. Mousavi fails to explain how exactly the regime will accept the people's demand after the low turn-out in the election. There seems to be an uncertain gap between these two events and boycott supporters do not have any plan for this time period.

When Mr. Mousavi was asked whether he is still happy about voting for Khatami twice, he said yes by reminding people how everything has improved since then. He then faced a question from the audience how someone can justify voting for Khatami but wants not to vote this time. The power structure is now the same as eight years ago. If voting strengthens the legitimacy of the regime this time, it had done the exact same thing four and eight years ago. If one can justify voting for Khatami by mentioning the positive changes over these years, he should be able to justify voting for Dr. Moeen for the same reasons.

There was a political activist among the audience who talked about his experiences. He said that since many years ago, he had boycotted the election because he didn't want to give legitimacy to the regime. He said that however nothing much had happened over those years till people actually participated and voted for Khatami and that was the start of real changes in the country. He now wonders how boycott strategy would do any good.

Those who boycott the election believe that Iran's problem cannot be solved unless the constitution changes for a more democratic structure. Even if this is true, the question is how not voting will make changing the constitution easier? Is the idea some kind of velvet revolution? Does a velvet revolution work in a middle eastern country with significant oil resources? This probably needs another post.

Comments
Mohammad Mahdian at June 6, 2005 02:04 AM [permalink]:

I beg to disagree. I voted twice for Khatami, but will not vote this time.

You said "those who boycott the election believe that Iran's problem cannot be solved unless the constitution changes for a more democratic structure". This is not the case for me. If there was a choice in this election that would even marginally improve the political situation in Iran, I would have voted. The reason I won't vote is that there is simply no such choice.

I assume you want to vote for Mr. Mo. Let's see what would happen if Mr. Mo gets elected. Mr. Mo would follow the path of Khatami, the only difference being that he is weaker. The outcome: 1. a country plagued by tension, 2. a conservative camp further united against the reform movement, and 3. a powerless executive branch that acts merely as a layer separating those who are in power from the popular pressure. I do not want this.

From my point of view, the best outcome for the election is if a moderate conservative (read Rafsanjani) gets elected with a low turn out. I know he would not further the cause of democracy in Iran, but my hope is that he would solve some of the international problems facing Iran, and that he would allow more social freedom for the fear of yet another (this time serious) 2 Khordad.

Arash Jalali at June 6, 2005 03:04 AM [permalink]:

I agree with Mohammad that Moeen would simply be a "poor man's" version of Khatami but I also have trouble calling Rafsanjani a "moderate". Moderate of any kind, even of the conservative kind. Maybe it is because some, including Mohammad, take the word moderate to refer to a relative concept? Yes, compared to Jannati and Mesbaah, he "seems" to be a bit tamer, but that is simply on the outside. Rafsanjani is more moderate on the podium, but not when it comes to getting the job done. How can someone, with an intelligence minister like Fallahian be called a moderate?

To me, the difference between Rafsanjani and any one of those outright "hardline" mullahs (with or without a turban), is that he is more conniving, and more dishonest. He is not into solving, but dissolving. He is very good at containing a situation, both inside and outside. Inside by shutting up any differing voices, and outside by giving in to outrageous deals, that would preferably leave him and his parasitic family a sizable amount of cash.

The nuclear negotiation team, comprising Mr.Raf's sympathizers, have done all they can to make the situation look potentially catastrophic, that they are willing to go all the way down, so that people would start seeking a "strong" savior again, helping them "resolve" tensions!


An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 6, 2005 03:53 AM [permalink]:

I can only fully agree with Arash.

horn at June 6, 2005 11:36 AM [permalink]:

1-Ahmad e Ghaabel had an interesting point about voting for Moeen: that voting for him removes the legitimacy of the Guardian Councile since they didn't want to let him engage in the elections.

2-I shall vote too. Islamic Republic has been illegitimate since a year after the revolution. The rulers in Iran are not shy. They don't go out of the scene by a boo. We can put a better choice as the president in the office and show our discontet the next day. I bet Moeen can even facilitate the expression of discontent just like Khatami did.

Ordac D. Coward at June 6, 2005 01:52 PM [permalink]:

Most likely I will not vote this election as my schedule does not allow me. However, I would have voted for Mr. Mo, as I believe any other president will degrade the political situation even worse than what happends unddr Mr. Mo. Mo's presidency, causes more tension between the different branches of the governement, in a way putting a hurdle against the conservatives. I do not expect any political nor economical imporovement during his
term.

One evil here,
one over there,
make them fight,
not a fist tight.

Babak S at June 6, 2005 03:57 PM [permalink]:

I support the boycott or at least conditional participation subject to boycott if conditions are not met. Here's my general arguments for it:

1- Participation is only meaningful if one wants to do something positive, that is reform the law. This was tested by Khatami and shown to be impossible. The vote for Khatami could be justified because this approach had not been tested at the time and it seemed the most compelling path then; at least the first thing to attmept. Participation out of fear of how worse the situation can be if Mr. Raf, Mr. Lar or Mr. Qal, etc. are elected is passive, reactionary, hopeless and fruitless. It is a contradiction in terms. An effort in the wrong direction to the least.

2- The real issue is not whether or not Mr. Mo is the President, but how he wants to exert his power. He doesn't have any power in real terms: no control over military, no real control over economy. His only asset would be a shaken popular vote and he has to resort to that—what Khatami didn't do and his borther, Mr. Mo's running mate, promises to do. (How serious he is about it is impossible to know.) So, reformists will have to resort to nonviolent protests anyway if they are to achieve anything.

3- But by (unconditional) particiapting in an undemocratic election, they undemrine the effectiveness of their future attempts at nonviolent protests. Legitimacy is indeed a big issue for an undemocratic system and the boycott can deny it to the system. It has to be consciously and publicly used to be effective though, not like the silent boycotts of the years after the crackdown on opposition parties during the war with Iraq.

4- The boycott strategy is/should be only the starting point of a popular nonviolent protest movement (noncooperation -> civil disobedience -> nonviolent protests) that will utilize the only real source of power for change in Iran.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 6, 2005 05:00 PM [permalink]:

Those who say the regime is already ilegitimate and everyone knows that miss the point.
An important factor in any change within Iran is the attitude of the international community (and I don't justy mean the US here. the rest of the world exit out there and Iran is not in sitauted in a vacuum. The regime uses them anyway it can and so should we, the people. It can be a tremendous force.

All countries are governed by some kind of bureaucracy. There are different opinions about how a problem country as complex like Iran has to be approched. There are also all sortsof vested interests. Oil companies. Companies in the US who are barred by the sanction unlike their counterparts elsewhere. There are all sorts of dirt deals going on, as the case in Iraq, with the oil for food program or the brines of Western politicians like Galloway has shown. God knows how much more is going on now with Iran. There is this American Iranian Council headed by that guy Amirahmadi who is actively lobbying for the mullahs in the US....
Our main ally should be the public opinion of the people in these countries and thosepoliticians who are willing to back real change instead of mere cosmetics in Iran. As far as the public are know, even among journalists and the informed many are not aware of all the intricaies of the Uranian society and can't feel the ugerncy of it all as we do, although this might come as a surprise.
Just like the case in 1376, a vote of confidence to Mo will be a considerd a vote for the system in any practical sense by the rest of the world (or for the lack of public will for a real change -- which is effectively a vote for the system)

Boycotting the elections carries an importnat message and resets the goal and the focus afterwards. A demand for the change of the whole power structure. With a vote , this shift CANNOT be made thouroughly.

But I have a question for those who still want to vote by the usual bad and worse argument.
We had a very similar discussion for the municipal and then parliamntary elections and the same people wanted to vote back then too for the same argument. What happened? Did the autocrats take over completely (as if they haven't had that with these reformists!)afterwards and no hope for change is there anymore. Well I think its quite the contrary. Now the "refomists" themselves, like Khatami's brother, are bragging about how the whole atmosphere is changed, how even the other side is using refom rhetoric, how "they" (!) had managed to impose the people's will on the totalitarians etc. How they brag about disunity in the autocratic polatform eversince they won the parilament? where did this horrible unity and uniformity of the "bad" guys go? the one that you kept (and still keep) frightening the rest of us with?
The other two elections where in any meaningful sense boycotted and now even the autocrats are supposedly forced to at least give the pretence of reform.
So how come? All the "we should vote for Mo or otherwise the sky will collapse over us" supporters , please let us know why a unified public opposition redirected towards the very core and structurte of the whole system together with the international crisis the system finds itself in would not lead to a better opportunity for freedom, than electing another puppet whose only virtue seems to be to limit(!) the unity of the more radical factions (even if they remian true to what they promise now)?


We're waiting.

Yaser K at June 6, 2005 05:26 PM [permalink]:

First of all, I don't think Moeen would be a weaker Khatami. His team is far stronger than Khatami's team and they also have the experience of these eight years. The only disadvantage (I admit a big one) is that he would have less number of votes than Khatami and therefore less popular support. And this is actually why I encourage everyone to vote Mr. Mo:-). But even if we believe that Mr. Mo is a weak Khatami, we should still support him. Because it is very dengerous if all the government is taken by the conservatives. Having some "Power" is very very critical for any future reform movement. "Power" gives you tribune to speak, gives you some safety to challenge the authotrian regime, and also gives you money! If there is no newspaper how do you think you can mobilize people for any disobedience.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 6, 2005 05:27 PM [permalink]:

Wow, not a single sentence in my last comment was grammatically correct-sorry about that. :)

Just to reiterate:
A vote for a candidate within the system will add to its legitimacy, as far as the practical decision making processes in the international arena is concerned. Eventhough we all know, and those independent individuals outside Iran who know about the situation in Iran, know for certain that it is illegitimate. That's because the way voting legitimized the regime is not by turning it into a real democracy in the yes of the observers, but by keeping the mirage of these nonexostent refom within the system approaches hanging out there as an option for the rest of the politicians of other countries.

My question again is a simple one, meant for those who keep warning us about the horrifying consequences of the supposed unity in power of the autocratic factions, if the refomists are thrown out of the power structure altogther:

This did not happen after the last two elections. On the contrary, the autocratic factions showed signs of disunity and started to pay lip service to the reform ideals and even used Leader's special power to "keep" the refomists within the structure. How do you explain this?
And why do you think a unified opposition now hitting against the very foundatiosn of the system together with the international crisis of the system won't be able to creat better opportunities for real change, than voting a weak insider-pseudo reformist into powwer yet again?

Peet's Coffee at June 6, 2005 06:44 PM [permalink]:

The numbered items below correspond to numbered items in Babak's comments.

1- Are you against the "passive, reactionary, hopeless and fruitless" act of ducking when a stone is thrown at you. Let's first duck (by voting) and then we can try everything else againd the guy who throws the stone. And I don't think Khatami's efforts have been in vain this process takes more time. We should not be impatient with this process. The main thing that takes time is the education of people in Iran about democracy. This will take quite a bit of time.

2- I don't know who spread the rumor that the president in Iran doesn't have any power. Khatami didn't WANT to use that power for whatever reason.

3- Wasn't there a partial boycott on the parliament elections? What did we get out that? We are one week away from the elections and the alliance for boycott has convinced roughly half of the voters. We are going to have only a partial boycott that will give us neither the benefits of the full boycott nor the benefits of having a better president.

4- How is it if the two camps of those who want to promote democracy in Iran to compromise in the following way. Let's say we ultimately need to build a strong coalision of noncooperation -> civil disobedience -> nonviolent protests. But it takes a bit more of planning and time than the one week left to this election. Let's plan it from now for the next elections if certain demands are not met. If we have any organizational power, let's organize the non-violent protests regularly.

SG at June 6, 2005 08:26 PM [permalink]:

I can't be more Catholic than the Pope! If these guys vote, so shall I!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/story/2005/06/printable/050606_a_nehzat_letter.shtml

But joking aside, the problem with boycotting the election is it works *only if* (and this is key here) the number of non-voters reaches a certain threshold, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

Babak S at June 6, 2005 08:29 PM [permalink]:

Peet's Coffee (what?!),

1- Yes, if all we seem to be doing is dodging stones thrown at us, I am against it. We have been doing this for the past 8/25/100 years. It's time we did something about those who throw the stones. Khatami's efforts were not in vain, only in the sense that showed the impossibility of moving forward within the law of the Islamic Republic, which was what he intended to do. His slogan of "abiding by the law", while an important advancement within the IR and a necessary condition for a democratic society, turned out to be very ineffective because the notion of law he supported was defective and impossible to improve within itself. This is because "abiding by the law" is not a sufficient condition for a democratic society. My argument is that the action for reform cannot go through by unconditional participation and must be done independently of the governement, and if there is any gain, through conditional participation.

2- The President does not have any authority in real terms as I wrote above. He may only have authority to the extent Khamenei and his support base want or are forced (by public pressure) to give him. Khatami didn't want to use his popular support exactly on the same grounds as those for participation in the power.

3- The partial boycott on the last elections (city and parliament) put the conservatives under a lot of pressure seeking legitimacy. Of course they are going to claim legitimacy no matter what, but that is irrelevant when it comes to credibility of the movement, or lobbying Europeans and Americans. People inside and outside see those elections as rigged and unpopular. The differences between the credibility of say, Karroubi, and Reza Khatami arise exactly because of their different reactions to the unfiair process of the previous prliamentary elections. I believe the conservatives are also divided for the same reason.

I agree the gains are minimal if the boycott is not utilized as part of a general strategy, that's why I think it should be followed by a nonviolent movement. It is only a starting point.

4- Why put it off for the next elections? Why not putting forward the demands right now? Even if not as a condition set for the elections, these demands must be announced right away and pursued determinedly. The "Front for Democracy and Human Rights" is a very good idea, and can act as the organizing body for these actions.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 7, 2005 01:12 AM [permalink]:

Just to follow up on what Babak S said here:

1- The fact that people need to be educated about democracy, that they are not ready ,etc is usually used as an apologetics for inaction.
It is quite simple. Yes, we all need to improve, some more some less and that has NO RELEVANCE on the necessary political demnads that have to be met. Listen, you need a min imal political order, justice and freedom for this gradual education/reform to be meaningful and to lead to anything. This system is below that minmal level. So it is URGENT that it be weakend and made to collapse by any means poossible, PRECISELY because that period of gradual REAL refom can bear fruits.

As for item 4, Ganji has a good suggestion. Why don't Mr. Mo and his team start RIGHT NOW. By demanding release of ALL political prisoners and much more afterwards, or going on indefinite hunger strike for example. After all he has already been approved, hasn't he? What difference does it makes now, and after his supposed election?
the fact that they will NEVEr do such a thing is proof enough of the futility of all the promises they make.

Yes, it is true that a half boycott is not as effective as a total one,but it is nevertheless the righ move. So, if we agree that it is the correct move, the possibility of half measure , or even that the whole thing goes wrong can not justify taking an action that we already know is WRONG and ineefective. What kind of a logic is it that uses such things as an argument in favor of participating, I wonder?!

My question, BTW, still remains unanswered. Should I take it that those advocating participation have no answer to give, or is it still too early?

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 7, 2005 01:51 AM [permalink]:

One more thing.
I see again and again tha people talk of Khatami not wanting to use his power, and that Moeen and his team are somehow "different".
First of all, if Moeen ends up like Khatami, not "wanting" to do even this infintesimal portion of demands that he has been stating now, what are we to do then friends? Wait for another elections, and another candidate and satrt over again how he would be different than Moeen and Khatami? Will this kind of logic ever reach its end?

More important though is this claim about Moeen's differnec with Khatami. Ok, let' see. During the student uprising, it was the people in Moeen's team who did everything in their power to fool the students and end the demosntrations. i can still remember Tajzadeh, who has been tearing his rear recently with his advocay of the "reform movement", went IMMIDIARETLY to the dormitory to "calm" the student protestors. It was PRECISELY this very team of Mr. Mo who PROMISED the student that they would keep the issue alive and fight for it "within the power system and by lawful means" and will not rest until those guilty are brought to justice. Well, we all know how good THEY are at keeping their promises, aren't we?
And aren't this new "more powerful" team those who enterd the Parliament with a huge vote? What was it they promised before, that they would change the press law once they get in. A letter came from Khamenei, Karroubi droped the case and our "strong" and "different" team made a couple of protests a few days and that was it! It didn't even last a week! Why didn't are radical heroes resign there ans then together? Why didn't they close the parliament in protest? It was not the weasel Khatami who was to blame there, was it?

Why isn't the parliamentary elections enough for us to decide about our trust in these "people"? Why should we try it yet again in this sham elections? I very mush wish to know.

Yaser K at June 7, 2005 08:41 AM [permalink]:

A couple of points:

1) President has a lot of power which influences the everyday life of the people. I simply compare the head of the universities at the time of Khatami (Moeen) to Rafsanjani (Golpayegani) and I see that as one (small) reason why to vote. Not only I care about the long term future of Iran (democracy), but I prefer the head of this and that organization to be reasonable people. Depending on who becomes president, most of the head of institutions, organizations differs.

2) I really don't think IRI cares much about legitimacy in practice. How did they approach city council elections when %15 of people of Tehran attended?

3) Nonviolent movement in recent years have been successful in countries (Ukrain, Georgia, ..) where the opposition was present in the power. If they are not, the movement will turn into chaos because of the lack of leadership and organizers.

4) Read this article about Egypt from Economist
http://www.economist.com/world/africa/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4033652
Since 1950, there is presidential election in Egypt with one candidate and very low turnout (

Mohammad Mahdian at June 7, 2005 12:06 PM [permalink]:

A short comment about Yaser's last post:

The example of the head of universities is a good example. Sure, Golpaygani was an idiot compared to Moeen. But if you remember, there was one example of successful non-violent protest at the time of Golpaygani, which resulted in the removal of the previous chair of Sharif University. I obviously do not expect Rafsanjani to make reasonable choices on his own; what I'm hoping for (wishfully, you might say) is that he does so under popular pressure. My point is that under Rafsanjani, the opposition would be united and therefore more powerful, whereas under Mr. Mo, the conservatives will be united and powerful (as they were during the past few years).

Gisoo tala at June 7, 2005 01:24 PM [permalink]:

I don't vote!
Not because I don't believe in voicing my opinion, because I firmly do. Not solely because I question the legitimacy and the purpose of the Islamic Republic, as the name itself is an oxymoron! (how can a republic be based on a religion you inherit, not chose!?? hence the definition of a republic)
But, because as a person who lives out of Iran. I believe I don't have the right to decide who should rule over a country in which I don't reside (remember taxation without representation), and neither do most of the members of my family, except for distant relatives.
I don't vote because I don't feel that I have enough knowledge about Iranian current politics, and the candidates to decide who would be the right president. Thus, my choice wouldn't be wise and out of knowledge, but merely following someone else's advice. And that's not my definition of active participation!
Finally, I don't vote because I live pretty far from the poll station.
All I can say is, it's a shame to vote for someone who is considered a criminal in the eyes of europeans, someone who has ordred mass arrests and massacres in the past, or someone who may be pursuing a coup d'etat!

Ali at June 7, 2005 02:46 PM [permalink]:

A couple of points:

1. Today's Mr. Rafsanjani is not that of 8 years ago. In his first cabinet, he tried (or at least pretended) to have a balance between different political parties. He is now more towards conservatives. There would be no Khatami, Nouri, or Karbaschi in his team. This is in part due to what happened to hi in the 6th parliament election, but comes more from his desire to be in power. He is a "political" player and has no ethical norm or clear political stand. I would prefer even Ahmadinejad to him!

2. Whether or not to vote is a decision that I would make based on the current situation at any time. The only thing I would care about is the transition to democracy and the best way to step forward at any given time. I think doing politics is like playing chess; make a move that your opponent does not expect. I was more towards boycotting the election, but now and after "hokm-e hokoomati", I think it's much better to participate.

3. Whether or not Moein gets elected, this election is another step forward. Apart from what Khatami or the 6th Parliament did, no one can ignore the fact that they introduced new concepts to Iranian people. More and more of such concepts are being talked about these days. Reformist are directly challenging parts of the constitution, people appointed by the Supreme leader, and even Khamenei himself. Women activists started new moves; Opposition is called to have a rule in reformistís government; etc.

Babak S at June 7, 2005 04:22 PM [permalink]:

A point on the powers of the President:

The powers I am talking about are those that can be used in the direction of reforms towards a truly representative democracy and respect for human rights. An example would be the power to hold democratic elections (upholding freedoms). I think it is a mistake to lower the level of debate down to the appointment of this person or that as the head of universities or such low-level positions. These are temporal issues — instances of the general structure that will be ultimately corrected as we near the real goal of democracy.

Starbucks for anti Peets ones at June 8, 2005 02:21 PM [permalink]:

There is not enough time to organize a widespread boycott of this election. Let's duck once more and start planning our civil disobedience and boycott for the next events and not only events.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 9, 2005 01:47 AM [permalink]:

What do you mean not enugh time?
How much does it take to issue a declaration and ask people not to vote? It's the simplest thing possible?
These are all excuses. RIGHT NOW is the time for boycott. No other event as important as this is going to take place in the next 4 years! Don't you get it, these rae very dire times!

Obviously no one has any answer to the points I raised about the conduct of this team and the consequences of the previous boycotts. Fine, this was expected.

I am sorry to have to say this but there is no other way to say it. Those who will vote in this elections only proove that they deserve nothing better than what they will get out of these candidates. Its very disappointing.

Babak S at June 9, 2005 03:01 AM [permalink]:

Another addition to my point on the powers of the President:

I think it is a mistake to lower the level of debate down to the appointment of this person or that as the head of universities or such low-level positions. Moreover, I doubt the President has enough power even over this little. It is not a simple task to chose a cabinet, when they have to be approved in a super hard-line Majlis.

Coffee (for goodness sake, pick a sensible name!),

What is there in your approach that makes it applicable only this time around and not at the time of the "next event"? Each time we have an "event" we will start discussing different approaches, there will be disagreements and time will go by before people really get the pressure to take a stand, and by then "there is not enough time to organize" this or that. This sounds more like a convenient excuse than a whole-hearted statement.

:) at June 9, 2005 03:20 AM [permalink]:

Issuing the declaration doesn't take time; it's acceptance by people takes time. If we have any power to organize people to do anything, we can do something the day after the election. Organize protests,....


An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 9, 2005 04:57 AM [permalink]:

>Issuing the declaration doesn't take time; it's
acceptance by people takes time.

No, not true. People have shown since the municipal elections that they tend to boycott, which is very reasonable. That's why the likes of Reza Khatami and Tajzadeh etc. are staging all these circus to heat up and steal the votes.
It is very simple. If all the important factions of the opposition, together with these so called "reformists" (who claim to be democratic... well what ever! :)) officially boycott the elections, I wouldn't worry about people's acceptance. Any more excuses?

>If we have any power to organize people to do anything, we can do something the day after the election. Organize protests,....

Why? for god's sake, why?! why not from now? What freaking difference is there between now and the day after the election?! What do you think will be magically accomplished by this clopwn act of "elections"?
If you are joking, at least give us a hint! ;->

Nietz at June 9, 2005 06:18 PM [permalink]:

AIS: I don't think participating in this election will do any magic. My problem is that I don't think anything will do magic. It's only very slow progress that will do the job. And I consider having Mo and Khatami junior a progress.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 9, 2005 09:15 PM [permalink]:

When you decide to go for a progress of (at most) .00001 (if not even negative) when correct collective action and sensitive international situation can get you a 1000.00001, I don't know what to say, but how sorry I feel for you.

Yaser K at June 9, 2005 10:07 PM [permalink]:

Boycott is not a principle. It is a tactic. A tactic to follow has to first work! A week left to election, it is more than clear that more than 50% participate. Therefore boycott doesn't illigitemize the regime at all. Boycotting is the same as voting to Rafsanjani. If someone thinks Rafsanjani is a more efficient president, that's fine. I don't have problem with that. But one thing is very obvious. In the upcoming election, boycott is exactly what Rafsanjani or other coservatives want.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at June 9, 2005 10:57 PM [permalink]:
The only "argument" that is being used by the proponents of participation is that otherwise, the hardliners would have alll the power and build a monolithic power front. That's basically the only thing they have to say. But that is not what will happen. These past years has shown exactly the opposite. That now they are actually talking about freedoms and talks with the US etc. themselves is the direct result of past semi-boycotts and the mafia structure of power in Iran. They will never be a unified monilithic power source, and what they are after in this elections is nothing even remotely close to that. They want particpation and the continuation of this good cop/bad cop show to give them an indirect ligitimacy, for the "elected part of the government facing the brutal hardliners" that they have been enjoying these past eight years. That's why Khamenei himself asks for our "savior" Moin to be kept in the race. I raised a question. No body seems able to answer it. So this is what you are reduced you now, Yaser, boycott is not going to work, so vote for Moin. This is the mafia logic, you know? Is this how Iran is to grow to a democracy? If the boycot goes on only halfheartedly as you say, YOU and your likes are responisible for it Yaser! Do you understand this? It wouldn't matter anymore if you are doing this consciously and for alterior motives or just because you are such a fool. The end result is that you are tying yourself to this criminal system and you would share in all the crimes that were and are commited in this system. And to the nuclear holocaust or other similar blood filled horrible future we would be rushing towards if this boycott doesn't go through. Do you get it? Your candidtae has kept running with an illegal decree from the supreme leader. the same leader that your beloved future vice president, Khatami version two, already is alsready asking to lead the refomr himself. This is what you are voting for, this! YOUR candidates were challenged to at least stay firm and demand the full and unconditional release of all political prisoners before continuing to run. They won't do that. instead the best that clown has brought himself to do is to ask for a full PARDON after being elected. PARDON? PARDON? PARDOIN FOR WHAT CRIME!? For what crime, Yaser? tell us what crome they have commited that your candidate is asking pardon for? They were asked to at least include all factions of opposition in their nice words now that they have laready been "qualified" by the guardian council on the Leader's decree. The best they could come up with was to join those retards of Nehzat azadi, to whose munumental and awe inspiring incompetence and right stances at the first years of revolution, we owe all these 26 heavenly years of ours! Yesterday independent couragous women pushed their way to the soccer stadium. the webpage of your candidate shamelessly calles them moin-supporters and uses it for their own propagnada. This is the pro-democracy ethics. You and your ilk, Yaser, keep repeating the usual meaningless sophistries of the past years. they have all been answered and proven false by Ganji IN PRISON. Have you even bothered to read what he has written under the pain of death ? Right now political prisonRight now Ganji has gone missing, probably arrested or even killeders are o hunger strike facing death, and that is before this election where the regime is playing the good soft guy to fool other idiots to join the charade as well ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Monika at June 10, 2005 12:40 AM [permalink]:

As a student living in Iran, I notice a substantial discrepancy in what goes in poeple`s minds and reality. Due to Iran`s young generation it is a natural tendency to be forward-looking, always waiting for our pure savior to free us. I should point out it is only our gullability; they know best how to induce us. Moeen or another is only an excuse; we all fully KNOW how this system is doomed.
It`s astonishing why we just don`t take lessons from history. The most evident case-Khatami`s, is open to everyone as it goes not far back. Many in his presidency determined to abstain from any participation. They even regretted a second vote for him.
I won`t vote, and I don`t agree with Yaser K that more than 50% will participate. In our 25 member class only 2 were about to vote. But maybe you are right. All 15 year olds are inspired everyday in Television for their FIRST vote!!!

joghd at June 10, 2005 01:33 AM [permalink]:

Nothing we say now will have any effect on this election. A small group of people like us can affect matters in Iran only if we have a longer term plan (longer than 2 weeks).

Babak S at June 10, 2005 01:50 AM [permalink]:

Our friend, joghd's one-liners are hilarious: "we can't do a thing," is all they are saying, "so let's at least play the game and worry about the principles, directions, strategies, whatever later when we have time to think."

Such passivity demanding an active participation! Is that the only way you can defend your decision to vote? I'd say I didn't know any better if I were to defend voting. At least it would be sincere.

Babak S at June 10, 2005 02:01 AM [permalink]:

Now, seriously, this small group of people writing and commenting here; do we really want to "affect matters in Iran?" in such grand words? Well, I don't think that's why I am taking part in this rather inconsequential online discussion. I am here to discuss my ideas, hear others, criticize them and be criticized in the hope that I as well as others will come out with a better understanding of, in this case, what to do to get closer to the ideal of democracy and human rights in Iran at this time. That is a small step forward, but still demands a huge commitment to discussion on both ends of it: to propose, to criticize, to defend the right and to discard the false. It's an ongoing purification process.

I do not seem to benefit from your one-line wisdoms though. They do not provide anything new, do not criticize anyhting, and so do not contribute to what I just describe at all. Why do you keep repeating yourself, sir?

horn,peet,star,:),nietz,joghd at June 10, 2005 04:03 PM [permalink]:

Babak, don't get mad at me for my one-liners. I will chose a permanent name for myself (I'll sign One-liner, ok! settled), so that you don't have to waste your time reading it. I'll try to analyze our conversation here carefully (not only you and me, but everybody else). we will learn a lot about ourselves, and how we can communicate in a more constructive way. It may be even a good idea for a new posting. After lunch hopefully.

Yaser K at June 11, 2005 10:49 AM [permalink]:

Babak,
I think your arguments are unrealistic. In politics, we have to play the game! There are very limited options in front of us and we have to choose one. I think boycott is not the one because it simply don't work in the upcoming election. I don't kow why you call this approach "Passive". I'd rather call it a "realistic" approach.

Babak S at June 11, 2005 02:58 PM [permalink]:

Yaser,

For one thing, I canont really say, from where I am standing, that the boycott won't work even in this election. I know the election heat can get many people to the polls, but still much depends on how hopeful people are.

Now, we are arguing for two different approaches not only to this election but the whole movement towards democracy and human rights in Iran. In this sense, our debate goes beyond the realities of this election (which is debatable as I said, given the lack of a trustable gauging method) and becomes one of principles. If you convince me, then we will do it your way: take part in elections and whatnot. If I can convince you then we will do it my way: boycott the elections vocally, and unravel a nonviolent movement. As I said before our approach is only the tip of the iceberg and the bigger part of it must unfold afterwards.

So far, I am not convinced at all that doing what we started doing 8 years ago is the way to go, and so advocate an alternative approach. I laid out my reasoning and am waiting for a good response.

One-liner at June 12, 2005 05:07 AM [permalink]:

What is not the question for me: What is a good way to achieve a democratic government if we could control everybody's actions in Iran? What should we recommend people to do if they would do anything we would recommend? If this was the question my answer would have been the bocott option. I'll come back to this at the end.

I don't consider our discussions here inconsequential. I think these ideas can propagate to the whole society slowly. I believe, having a democratic political system depends critically on the people's understanding of what they want politically and why they want it. We, as a few neurons of this brain, can have our useful firings.

I don't think the Iranian's understanding of the need for democracy has passed the critical value. We need a bit more of this education. As a result no educational opportunity should be missed. Even slightly a better choice for the head of a university is immensly useful in this respect.

So, my point has never been "we can't do a thing" as I have been misquoted. I think we can pick a more favorable environment for people's thrive toward democracy.

I think about the consequences of what we say here. I agree that calling each other asshole or pathetic, or criticizing each other for the length of what we write, but not reading or thinking about those few lines that are written are inconsequential. We, need a little more education here too, but if we don't give up on this kind of conversation here, we will be able to write words of macroscopic consequences.


Sayyed Bashir Sadjad at June 12, 2005 01:54 PM [permalink]:

Well, first of all, I shall vote too!
Here are my points regarding this debate:

1) First of all my reasons are not only out of the FEAR of a
conservative government but also the HOPE of continuation of the path
of reform started by Khatami. I don't want to argue about what Khatami didn't
want to or couldn't do, what I see is a more OPEN society which is not
comparable to what was before 1997. Don't argue
that it would happen anyways, it didn't happen in Iraq with no critical
media (even PARTIALLY free), FORBIDDEN Internet,
and fearful security forces, while the opposition to
Saddam Hussein was much more widespread. You couldn't even talk about politics
in the streets of Karbala and Najaf!

2) I see a huge shift between the demands of Khatami in 1997 and current
demands of pioneer reformists, so I don't agree that Moeen AND his group
will be a weaken version of Khatami.

3) To those who keep asking for boycott and yelling that "why not now" question:
You all agree on continuing the reform way after boycott by protest, ...
I believe you
know such "civil disobedience" and "protests" are much more expensive under
a conservative president. The minimum is that you will never get the "official"
authorizations to hold such protests and you know the consequences of such
so called illegal actions are much worse than what happens to protesters right now
(most of which are authorized by the interior ministry of the reformist president).
Honestly how much are you (personally) prepared to pay for the cause of
democracy? Won't you simply stay out of the country until it blows up or invaded
by a foreign force?

4) Following the previous item and that the boycott simply doesn't work:
The second term of Khamenei and both terms of Rafsanjani the turn out was between
50 to 55%. Was that a disaster for the regime?
Believe it or not the turn out in the next election is at least
55% (look at http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-17/0506111233201658.htm).

5) I don't agree that president is powerless, there are many examples by
which I can argue about the great influence of DOWLAT. I pick the education
system: We all talk about that people should be educated about democracy,
so aren't school text books the best place to promote democratic ideas for the new generation
(and they are solely prepared by education ministry). I am not
only talking about the political system but the way that people should think
about OTHERS' OPINIONS which is a crucial part of democracy. This is something that
our kids should learn from the very first stages of their lives.

There are other points I wanted to raise but to prevent that
"Toooo Long" thing I rather stop here :)

Niayesh at June 13, 2005 10:38 AM [permalink]:

Can supporters of boycott suggest a historical precedent, where boycotting a democratic process (i.e. election) has brought about more democracy?

Babak S at June 13, 2005 12:28 PM [permalink]:

Niayesh,

Some examples could be found in the struggle to freedom in South Africa, during the time elections were restricted to the white minority.

But I guess our exact situation may be a new and unexperienced one.