The upcoming elections in the Islamic Republic have generated headlines in the Western media that, Amir Taheri writes, seem to misunderstand that this is a sham contest:
Every four years, Iranians and others interested in Iranian affairs are invited to participate in or at least observe what is presented as a dramatic quest for power by rival factions defending sharply different programs. Thus a few weeks of excitement are created out of thin air to give the impression that the peculiar system created by the late Ayatollah Khomeini is an Islamic version of the cursed democracy promoted by the “infidel.” The show is also used to blame all that is wrong in the country on the president in charge for the past four years and, almost always, end up re-electing him for four more years. . . .
To add more spice to the mix, the regime and its lobbyists in the West also urge support for the candidate supposed to be farther from the “supreme leader,” Ali Khamenei. . . . For Khamenei, [however], the presidential election is nothing but a four-year endorsement of the Khomeinist system, a kind of referendum on the regime’s legitimacy rather than a choice of an individual president. . . .
[T]he question Iranians face is not about which of the various puppets [of the supreme leader running for president] is most qualified. The real issue is whether they wish this broken system to continue. . . . Four years ago, the presidential election scored the lowest rate of voter participation and Hassan Rouhani won with the smallest margin in the Islamic Republic’s history. In its limited way, the last election was thus a slap in the face for the Khomeinists. Will we see another such slap this time, too?