In the current presidential election in Iran 1014 people registered as candidates. 1008 were disqualifies initially by the Council of Gaurdians; 2 were re-qualified in a row over the consequences of their disqualification. A simple question arises naturally: Why so many? Apparantly something's wrong somewhere.
The hard-line Council of Gaurdians who are happy to slash anyone not strongly enough aligned with their politics and religious guidelines, the two tightly knit in the Islamic Republic (IR), without accepting any sort of public scrutiny of their processes naturally would argue that the constitutional qualifications for candidacy are at fault. In fact Jannati, the well-known hardliner and the Secretary of the Council, said so yesterday in the Friday prayers (another religious act turned political in the IR). But this is, as I see it, just a new front in the attack against people's freedoms and completely beside the point. The real reason so many people show up for registeration including, allegedly, many who may not even be at a literacy level to read and write, is the political system not the law per se.
Article 115 — The President must be elected from among religious and political personalities possessing the following qualifications: Iranian origin; Iranian nationality; administrative capacity and resourcefulness; a good past-record; trustworthiness and piety; convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country.In fact, except age restrictions (ranging up to 40 years old), most democratic republics do not have a more detailed set of conditions for qualification of candidates than Iran has1.
The argument for blaming the recent phenomenon of mass registeration by apparantly unqualified people on the constitutional qualifications is simply wrong: there is no logical connection between the actual set of qualifiations adopted and the number of people who register. For one thing, it is not true that all the registrants were obviously unqualified from the start; many conventional "politicians" registered too. What is that to be blamed on? For another, what set of conditions is supposed to prevent such outpours when the current strict set does not? The missing link is not the set of qualifications, but the mechanisms through which these qualifications find their proper meaning in the political system in particular and in the society in general.
So, what is at fault is the amorphous nature of the political game in Iran. The mechanisms of an effective democratic process in Iran's politics are lacking and, even worse, blocked by the hard-liners. This has led to the dispersion of the existing political forces. Moreover it has prevented arising ones from formation. The current state is one in which proper means of funnelling economical, political and social demands through the political system have been destroyed, badly damaged, or vehemently resisted. The result: a lot of people who are grieved by their conditions for one reason or another think they should take matters in their own hands. This is also the case, to some worrying extent, for the active political groups and parties, even the reformists.
Of course, this does not mean that the constitutional qualifications are not the source of any problem. They are too broad and very ambiguous. What does it really mean to be "trustworthy" or "resourceful"? This vague wording has been the major justification for the vetting powers of the Council of Gaurdians. But it is meaningless to change them in any way just to hide the symptoms of a disease that is created and continued by the enemies of freedom and democracy. Certainly not by the staunchest of them all, the Council of Gaurdians.