The Iranian Elections

So nasty Mr Ahmedinejad seems to have prevailed and that nice Mr Moussavi has been robbed.

Or not: one or two more informed commentators have actually pointed out that the official results are in line with the most reliable independent opinion polls. Mr Ahmedinejad may just have won the election fairly.

But no one can be sure.  Democracy, like justice, must be seen to be done.  If the count had been open and public, as it is in the UK, there would be much less scope for either rigging, or for protesting that the result had been rigged. No one trusts the Iranian election results, not just because they were not what we in the west wanted (as if it has anything to do with us) but because the Iranian people didn’t get to see as much as possible how the results were achieved.

The only part of a secret ballot that should be secret is the bit that links a voting paper with a voter (the bit, in fact, that isn’t secret in the UK, where ballot papers have serial numbers on them); everything else should be as open as possible. If the Iranian authorities embraced openness, they might not have had the levels of protest that they’ve had – and they would still have won  the election. Or would they?

Iran, like the US and many European nations, is a divided nation: divided between a rural, reactionary red-neck population, and a liberal metropolitan grouping.  Cities, particularly great cosmopolitan cities like London and New York , – and, not yet to quite the same degree, Tehran – tend to be more liberal than the rural areas.  And they are growing fast; the world is becoming more urban, and as it does, it becomes more liberal. When the urban majority gets out to vote, as it did for Barack Obama in the US, it tends to win. Iran is a young country, and its intelligent, metropolitan youth will prevail next time round. Or the time after; but eventually, Ahmedinejad’s (and Khameini’s) support base will, like the Republican one, die out.

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