Iran goes to the polls today for Parliamentary elections. While we’ll have to wait for Sunday for the official results, the conditions under which the elections are being held make it look like a rigged game. Sohrab Ahmari writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Half of the original 12,000 or so candidates for the 290-seat Majlis were disqualified ahead of the election. As were 75% of the 801 candidates for the 88-member Assembly of Experts—including Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of regime founder AyatollahRuhollah Khomeini. That leaves a ratio of candidates to seats in the Assembly of Experts of less than two.
Most of the disqualified belonged to the so-called reformist and moderate factions of the regime. Even if every single disqualification were reversed, however, it wouldn’t matter a wit, since the regime’s popular branches are subservient to its unelected institutions. Above them all sits the supreme leader, and the pre-election purge means whoever succeeds Mr. Khamenei is likely to share his views on all important matters.[..]
On the domestic front, the regime has launched a fresh crackdown against degar-andishan, dissidents or “other-thinkers”—poets, film makers, journalists and novelists who question its rule. Tehran is also warning off Iranian-Americans eager to cash in on their commercial connections now that international sanctions have been lifted. Security forces in October arrested Siamak Namazi, an American energy consultant who had long advocated for the removal of sanctions and a Washington-Tehran opening. On Monday, Mr. Namazi’s U.S. citizen father, Baquer, was arrested after apparently being lured back by the regime.
Computer programmers have a saying: garbage in, garbage out. In this case, if you are running an electoral system with fewer than two people competing per seat, and you’ve removed many of the moderates… you’re unlikely to see many moderates among the winners. Or much moderation from the government to follow.
Of course, we could be surprised on Sunday. But right now, it looks like the oft-promised moderation that was supposed to follow the Iran deal is nowhere to be found. Which means more regional aggression, more war, more death—nukes or no nukes.