The Story Of Iran’s Presidential Elections


From left to right: Rouhani, Ahmadinejad, Raisi

By Heshmat Alavi

With former firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entering Iran’s presidential election and spiraling the entire race into unprecedented crises, taking a more in-depth look into the history of elections in Iran is quite necessary.

Holding elections have been a tradition practiced by humanity for a few thousand years to manage society. Elections, based on the correct and conventional meaning of the word, became a traditional law in Iran following the Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century. Although, the ruling monarchy had a tendency to either cancel elections altogether or holding farce polls.

Iranians only experienced true democracy during the prime ministry of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, widely regarded as a leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in modern Iranian history. His short premiership, however, became the target of a 1953 coup d’etat backed by the American and British governments.

Following the 1979 revolution being hijacked by ultraconservative clerics led by Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran was transformed into a theocracy with zero tolerance for democratic norms. Khomeini began taking advantage of elections as a medium to deceive the people and an asset for foreign propaganda.

The first ever so-called “election” held in Iran came in the 1979 referendum asking the people to vote yes or no to the “Islamic Republic” without any prior knowledge of its structure, objectives or methods. The atmosphere created by Khomeini defined a no vote as literally backstabbing the 1979 revolution altogether.

Khomeini’s second sham election was even more dismal. He set aside all pledged plans for general elections and called for the establishment of an “Assembly of Experts.” This body was tasked to outline and shape the velayat-e faqih principle, Khomeini’s vision of the absolute rule over the people.

Iran under Khomeini held its first presidential election in 1980, in which Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), participated alongside nine other finalists. Knowing Rajavi enjoyed immense popular support, Khomeini resorted to the pretext that Rajavi had voted no to the Islamic republic constitution, and thus had him disqualified.

Khomeini followed the same principle of no tolerance in his regime’s first general elections, eliminating all candidates deemed anyhow disloyal to his reactionary and extremist mentality of imposing the utmost control over people’s lives.

Source: The Story Of Iran’s Presidential Elections