News Release

Iran’s Runoff Presidential Election Friday

Iranians are voting Friday (June 24) in a runoff election that will determine the next president of their country. The contest pits former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani against the current Tehran mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the context of Iranian politics, Rafsanjani is a “moderate” while Ahmadinejad is a hardline fundamentalist.

The following analysts are available for interviews:

NARGES BAJOGHLI
Bajoghli is an Iranian-American graduate of Wellesley College and a Susan Knafel Fellow at the University of Tehran’s Faculty of Law and Political Science, where she has been studying and researching for the past year. She said today: “This election has moved away from the conservative/reform debates of the past eight years to one of economics and the divide between the rich and the poor. The runoff election is not about debating political terms of democracy, secularism, liberalism, etc.; it is about choosing between a ‘people’s man’ and a potential oligarch. Ahmadinejad’s supporters are determined to return the focus of the Islamic Republic to ‘the people,’ while those voting for Rafsanjani — not necessarily for him, but voting against Ahmadinejad — are determined not to let the country fall into the hands of hardliners once again. The main questions remain: At the core, is there a real difference between these two candidates? Will the victory of one over the other signify a drastic change in either the structure of the Islamic Republic or the social reality?”

ROSS POURZAL
Pourzal is a Washington-based political analyst who is on the board of the Alliance of Progressive Iranians. He said today: “Like the French and Dutch rejection of the proposed EU constitution, Ahmadinejad’s second-place showing is a vote for authenticity and against forced globalization, i.e. gentrification. These were the ideals of the revolution of 1979, which Rafsanjani and other moderates are abandoning for the youth and corporate vote. The reform agenda — which Western observers have described as more tolerant — stresses privatization, deregulation and property rights, along with secular liberties. Iranians of modest means, to whom human rights starts with subsidized health care and education, count on Ahmadinejad to block reforms that are expected to exacerbate the gap between economic winners and losers.”
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, was in Tehran for 10 days until last weekend. He said today: “Instead of acknowledging that a real struggle for power is going on in Iran’s presidential election, top U.S. officials have been asserting that the election is meaningless. This claim has much to do with the White House agenda for confronting Iran in the months and years ahead. … From the standpoint of human rights, Ahmadinejad would be disastrous for Iran if he wins this election. Yet as Iran’s president he would be an ideal foil for Bush’s efforts to heighten tensions between Washington and Tehran.” Solomon is the author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
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REESE ERLICH
Erlich is a freelance foreign correspondent with a history in journalism going back 37 years. He just returned from Iran on assignment for Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, among other outlets. His views are his own. He said today: “The Iranian presidential elections are tumultuous and controversial. Reformers claim vote fraud. No one predicted that these two candidates would face a runoff. Iranian elections are not democratic, but they are far more representative than the U.S.-sponsored elections in Iraq in which the Bush administration acted as a ‘guardian council’ to install its allies in power. The stakes are very high in Friday’s outcome, and the elections show the inability of the Bush administration to relate to the legitimate concerns of the people of Iran.”

For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (415) 552-5378 or (415) 309-4359.