Iran: June 18, 2005


The sham presidential election resulted in former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani coming out on top (with 20.8 percent), closely followed by former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (with 19.3 percent). The other five candidates split the remaining votes. Rafsanjani, who in the past has advocated using nuclear weapons against Israel, is seen as a "pragmatic moderate." That's very much a relative concept in Iran. Ahmadinejad is very conservative, and particularly keen to enforce lifestyle restrictions, and encourages more charity for the poor (largely impoverished by corruption among the clerics who dominate the economy.)  Neither of these two got 50 percent of the vote, so there will be a run-off.  Ahmadinejad made a surprising showing, compared to what opinion polls before the vote predicted. It is believed that Islamic conservatives, who control the military, police and courts, rigged the vote to make  Ahmadinejad do better. 


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