Freitag, 26. Dezember 2008

Selection of Plenty - Iran's 2009 election

While the world is awaiting the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, Iran is warming up to its 2009 presidential election, cycle, an election that is both nearly irrelavant for the country's future course and important for the survival of the reformist camp. While Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei already announced his support for President Ahamdinejad's reelection bid, the second most powerful centre, the old guard lead by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is about to form a coalition with the reformist camp, an initiative known as National Unity Government Initiative. If this initiative were to succeed, it would put tremendous pressure on Ahmadinejad, although Khameneis public endorsement of Ahmadinejad makes it hard for other conservatives to come out in favour for amy reformist candidate. It is even more bad news for Ahmadinejad that another conservative is keen on running for the Presidents office: Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. Nonetheless, if Ahmadinejad wins a second term, which still is likely, it will be the product of the intense campaign the conservative establishment run against the reformist camp in recent years, shutting out reformist from the election for the Majlis, the Iranian parliament; the latest being the shutdown of the Centre for the Defense of Human Rights, which is headed by Shirin Ebadi, a couple of days ago and, moreover, voter turnout is likely to plunge again. So, even if reelected, he is hardly speaking for the Iranian people and his office will have lost even more legitimacy. Nonetheless, the Administration of Barack Obama might very well find itself in a catch-22: by waiting to initate a dialogue after the election, it acknowledges a president, who lost legitimacy, by engaging earlier it might boost Ahmadinejad's reelection bid.

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