Open Thread: Iran Election

For the past couple of days, I've just been reading lots of stuff about the Iran election and its aftermath, in which charges of voter fraud have led to protests and escalating violence. There are articles quite convincingly arguing that the outcome was legitimate; there are also articles quite convincingly questioning whether that's accurate. I quite honestly don't even feel remotely qualified, or even, after all the reading I've done, sufficiently informed, to draw any kind of firm conclusion, so I'm just going to throw some links out there, below, and open it up for discussion.

New York TimesLeader Emerges With Stronger Hand: "Whether his 63 percent victory is truly the will of the people or the result of fraud, it demonstrated that Mr. Ahmadinejad is the shrewd and ruthless front man for a clerical, military and political elite that is more unified and emboldened than at any time since the 1979 revolution. ... With this election, Mr. Khamenei and his protégé appear to have neutralized for now the reform forces that they saw as a threat to their power, political analysts said. 'This will change the face of the Islamic Republic forever,' said one well-connected Iranian, who like most of those interviewed declined to be named in the current tense climate. 'Ahmadinejad will claim an absolute mandate, meaning he has no need to compromise'."

Der Spiegel'Extraordinary Amount of Wishful Thinking' by US: "The Western media overstated the surge of his main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi over the last couple of weeks. They missed almost entirely how Ahmadinejad was perceived to have won the television debate, for instance. There was an extraordinary amount of wishful thinking on the part of American and Western policymakers. Unfortunately, that had a strong impact on the media coverage over the past few weeks."

FiveThirtyEight—Iranian Election Results by Province: "Based on conversations with people who are a bit more informed about Iranian domestic politics, it seems absolutely possible that Ahmadinejad in fact won (although his share of the vote was probably boosted through 'dirty tricks'—intimidation both before and during the election, jamming text messaging services, etc.) and also absolutely possible that the election was stolen. The statistical evidence is intriguing but, ultimately, inconclusive."

Washington PostThe Iranian People Speak: "The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin—greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election."

Informed Comment—Terror Free Tomorrow Poll Did not Predict Ahmadinejad Win: "[G]iven the PFTFT numbers, all of the undecideds would have had to vote for Ahmadinejad in order for him to get over 60% of the total vote. That outcome seems to me so statistically unlikely as to rate as an impossibility. Note that the regime is not merely claiming that Ahmadinejad barely avoided a run-off by getting 51% of the vote. They are saying he received nearly two-thirds of the vote. No such outcome was predicted by the PFTFT poll—quite the opposite."

New York TimesKhamenei Calls for Vote Inquiry Amid Calls for Calm: "The Iranian opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, appeared publicly on Monday for the first time in more than two days to call for calm as Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for a high-level inquiry into accusations of election irregularities. ... Mr. Moussavi met with the supreme leader on Sunday night, several news agencies quoted state television as reporting. Ayatollah Khamenei then asked that the powerful Guardian Council 'precisely examine' Mr. Moussavi's charges of irregularities, state media said. The council will make its findings known in 10 days, according to the state media reports."

AP—Pro-reform marchers fill Tehran streets: "Iran's supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country's most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

Washington IndependentObama's Iran Policy to Focus on Human Rights, Not Election: "As reports of political violence in Iran intensified after Friday’s fiercely disputed election, the Obama administration insisted that it would not interfere with the struggle for power between regime-backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the thousands of demonstrators who contend the election was stolen. Administration officials, on and off the record, said that President Obama would offer support for human rights in Iran generally and would not back away from his diplomatic outreach to the longtime U.S. adversary, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the election."

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