Iran’s emerging electoral boycott reflects growing support for the PMOI
The MEK urges the Iranian people to avoid the Iranian regime’s presidential election farce.
PARIS, FRANCE, May 22, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ – Iran’s main voice for a democratic future, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK), has long encouraged the Iranian people to avoid participating in the current regime’s elections, on the understanding that the process is a sham.
The country’s theocratic system of government ostensibly allows for the popular election of a president and members of parliament, but it also invests enormous power in unelected officials and institutions like the regime’s supreme leader and the Council of Guardians. The latter is specifically responsible for vetting all political candidates and any new legislation according to criteria that include loyalty to the Supreme Leader himself. Therefore, only candidates with absolute loyalty to the Supreme Leader are allowed to hold high office.
As the PMOI makes clear in every electoral cycle, the “reformist” faction of Iran’s current political system is misnamed. In all the most important matters, its members agree with their “hard-core” colleagues. Elections are therefore little more than a system of power sharing between two elite interest groups. The victory of one faction or the other has never translated into a significant reduction in the social or economic crises facing the Iranian people. Indeed, these problems have continued to intensify for more than four decades since the creation of the Iranian regime.
This trend has certainly remained recognizable over the past eight years, when the Iranian government was theoretically headed by the so-called reformist president Hassan Rouhani. During his first electoral term in 2013, some of Rouhani’s Western counterparts embraced his surprise electoral victory and even went so far as to suggest that pro-democracy Iranian youth had somehow been vindicated for their participation in the 2009 protests, who questioned the re-election of Rouhani’s “hard” predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Inside Iran, however, enthusiasm for Rouhani was much more subdued. A few months after taking office, on almost every issue, he and his advisers publicly insisted that the president had no influence over the decisions or the conduct of an “independent” judiciary, regardless of his position. well-established desire to suppress dissent and enforce fear. government authority.
The administration’s statements on matters reflected a clear and deliberate abdication of responsibility, and they were repeated over and over again in the context of other issues that had been the source of widespread discussion and protests within the community. Iranian activist. As a result, people’s hatred of Rouhani does not mean that she gave her support to her closest challenger, an ultra-tough judge named Ebrahim Raisi, whose central claim to fame is a major role in the process. 1988 massacre political prisoners, who mainly targeted the PMOI and over 30,000 political prisoners, were massacred.
Instead, the 2017 presidential election saw a surge in the number of Iranians completely boycotting the polls and demonstrating that they saw no way forward for Iran under either leadership. other political faction. These two factions did all they could to cover the upward trajectory of the PMOI boycott campaign. State media during this election cycle broadcast images of long queues at polling stations, but citizen journalists provided evidence that these images often depicted members of the regime’s civilian militia, Basij, who moved from place to place, completing the numbers and forcing spectators to move. participate in a process that many of them saw little use in.
The purpose of this propaganda was, of course, to present the image of popular recognition of the legitimacy of the regime. But the same propaganda also served to cover up how the Iranian people, increasingly outraged by their own government, naturally gravitated towards the nearest viable alternative: the PMOI and its parent coalition, the National Council of Iranian Resistance.
While the 2017 election boycott hinted at the popular adoption of the PMOI, this phenomenon was made undeniable at the very beginning of 2018, when protests erupted in more than 100 towns and villages, all featuring anti-government slogans and calls for regime change that had been popularized by the MEK’s “Resistance Units”.
The role of the PMOI in planning and facilitating the protests was recognized by no less an authority than the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who delivered a speech at the height of the uprising in which he said the PMOI had “planned for months” to capitalize on public discontent with the mismanagement of the economic and social affairs of the entire government.
The 2018 uprising was finally brought under control after the deaths of dozens of peaceful protesters. But it also led to what NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi called a “year full of uprisings”. This, in turn, set the stage for another even larger uprising in November 2019. In this case, nearly 200 localities became hosts to the same anti-government slogans, and the regime, in its panic, ordered to the authorities to open fire on the crowds. protesters, killing 1,500 in a matter of days.
One could argue that these murders were the final nail in the coffin of the narrative of a reformist political faction that is materially different from its harsh “alternative”. Taking place under Rouhani’s watch, the November 2019 crackdown was the worst incidence of crackdown in decades, and no major reformist figure has taken steps to stop it or even stepped up to criticize it after the fact.
It should therefore not have been surprising that, when the legislative elections were held three months later, they received the lowest turnout in the history of the regime. Tehran tried to explain this as a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, but the regime had deliberately avoided recognizing local infections in order to encourage the highest level of participation possible.
The failure of this system suggests that the mullahs will find it difficult from now on to create an image of their own legitimacy from the thin veneer of Iranian democracy. At the same time, there is no indication that public support for the PMOI will do anything other than continue to trend upward, reaffirming support for its platform which was highlighted in January 2018 and November 2019.
Next month’s mock presidential election could be the latest testing ground for this trend. MEK resistance units are currently operating in cities across the country to promote an electoral boycott. Graffiti, posters and placards in each of these localities tend to frame this activity specifically as “voting for regime change”. And it is a message that has not gone unnoticed by Iranian officials and Iranian state media.
Many of them warned that low voter turnout could be a sign of worsening social unrest on the scale of recent uprisings. In recent speeches, Ms Rajavi pointed out that the signs of such unrest are already visible in the form of protests by marginalized fuel carriers, struggling retirees, swindled investors and others. In each of these cases, protest participants were heard to clearly endorse the electoral boycott with slogans such as “we saw no justice; we will not vote.
In this way, they demonstrate the unity of purposes among all their causes – a unity which, obviously, is facilitated in large part by WIPO.
Activities of MEK resistance units in April 2021 focus on Iranian presidential election