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Ahmadinejad Dealt Blow in Iranian Elections

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While all eyes were on France, the ouster of Nicholas Sarkozy and a rejection of austerity, Iran has been conducting its first elections since the 2009 elections that reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. This was the second round of voting for seats in the Parliament elections that were held in March. It has dealt a blow to Ahmadinejad and his supporters with a shift to more conservative backers of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The rift between Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah began with dispute over the choice of the national security chief. The voting has left the Ayatollah firmly in charge:

With the bulk of seats decided in Iran’s parliamentary elections, it appeared on Sunday that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has gained the ironclad majority he needed not just to bring the country’s president to heel, but to eliminate the position entirely.

Ayatollah Khamenei has jousted repeatedly with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – as well as the two previous presidents – so the supreme leader secured this majority at Mr. Ahmadinejad’s expense.

The ayatollah will seek “to eliminate the post of president,” said Aliakbar Mousavi Khoeini, a former reformist member of the Parliament now living in exile in the United States.

“If they can get that, they will not hold the next presidential election; instead, Parliament will chose a prime minister,” he said. “Then Khamenei will essentially have everything he does approved and pushed through Parliament by his allies.”

Ayatollah Khamenei suggested last October that Iran would be better off governed under a parliamentary system in which the prime minister was chosen from members of the 290-seat Parliament. Under Iran’s byzantine electoral system, most reformist candidates were barred from running in last Friday’s election, essentially creating a contest between the two main hard-liner camps.

With 90 percent of the districts counted, Ayatollah Khamenei’s allies had won about 75 percent of the 200 seats in those districts, according to Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite channel, quoting the Interior Ministry.

Khamesian said Ahmadinejad was gradually fading from Iran’s political scene but could still stir up conflict with parliament.

“Ahmadinejad is the losing party. So, he will try to create tensions in the hope of getting concessions,” he said.

The outgoing parliament and Ahmadinejad are at loggerheads over how quickly to slash food and energy subsidies. The president favors dramatic cuts to boost Iran’s ailing economy by reducing the massive drain on the state budget from the subsidies.

The government implemented a first phase of slashing subsidies in December 2010. Gasoline prices quadrupled and bread prices tripled after the cuts came into effect. Prices have also increased in recent months, partly as a result of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as news that the government is considering ending subsidies altogether.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, one of Ahmadinejad’s opponents, said the parliament won’t allow him to quickly end the remaining subsidies because it would cause wild inflation and public dissatisfaction.

(Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now out of favor with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suffered more setbacks in a run-off parliamentary election seen as a pointer for next year’s presidential race, results showed on Saturday.

The authorities hailed the outcome as a resounding triumph for Iran as it prepares for nuclear negotiations with the West.

Results announced by the Interior Ministry showed the United Principalist Front, closely linked with Khamenei and critical of Ahmadinejad, leading Friday’s vote, but with the hardline Resistance Front of the Islamic Revolution close behind.

The allegiance of the Resistance Front is tricky to fathom. It also backs Khamenei, but some members have served under Ahmadinejad. Some still support the president, others dislike his chief of staff, accused of trying to undermine Iran’s theocratic system.

At the heart of this election were Iran’s nuclear energy program and continued subsidies for food and energy which have been cut, and along with Western sanctions, have resulted in drastic increases in the price of gas and bread:

“The vote is support for the ruling system as it faces the U.S. and its allies over the nuclear program … The vote also means that tensions will increase between Ahmadinejad and his opponents in the incoming parliament,” political analyst Ali Reza Khamesian said.

Khamesian said Ahmadinejad was gradually fading from Iran’s political scene but could still stir up conflict with parliament.

“Ahmadinejad is the losing party. So, he will try to create tensions in the hope of getting concessions,” he said.

The outgoing parliament and Ahmadinejad are at loggerheads over how quickly to slash food and energy subsidies. The president favors dramatic cuts to boost Iran’s ailing economy by reducing the massive drain on the state budget from the subsidies.

The government implemented a first phase of slashing subsidies in December 2010. Gasoline prices quadrupled and bread prices tripled after the cuts came into effect. Prices have also increased in recent months, partly as a result of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as news that the government is considering ending subsidies altogether.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, one of Ahmadinejad’s opponents, said the parliament won’t allow him to quickly end the remaining subsidies because it would cause wild inflation and public dissatisfaction.

It’s difficult to tell how this will effect talks about Iran’s nuclear energy program but it will hopefully cool the the saber rattling rhetoric, letting saner voices prevail. We can hope.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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