The Framework of Presidential Elections in Islamic Iran

Developing Just Leadership

Waseem Shehzad

Shawwal 20, 1442 2021-06-01

Main Stories

by Waseem Shehzad (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 4, Shawwal, 1442)

Whenever elections take place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, commentaries and analyses of Westerners mimic West-centric misinterpretations of Rumi. The sage’s completely God-centric, Qur’an-oriented poetry and metaphors are constantly stripped of their indigenous Islamic nature by Western secular perspectives.

Iran’s political system is mostly analyzed by the Western media and their so-called experts in purely secular and West-centric framework. To a certain degree, this misreading of the Islamic system works in Iran’s favor. It is one of the reasons why NATO regimes have failed to overthrow the Islamic system in Iran for more than 42 years.

Western evaluation of ground realities always lacks authenticity and is not rooted in Iran’s Islamic societal paradigm. Thus, to understand the electoral process and its basis in Iran in realistic terms, one must step outside of the neo-colonial framework.

With the above in mind, we would like to evaluate Iran’s presidential elections as a societal institution and a political program of the Islamic Revolution. Western regimes and their media outlets are focused primarily on undermining the overall electoral process in the Islamic Republic. Strategically speaking, they do not really care who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Presence of an electoral process within an Islamic governance system not subordinated to secular and Western values and dogmas is a civilizational challenge to the current global order. It strips Western regimes of their claim to represent the progressive way humanity must manage its affairs.

Like any other sustainable country in history, Iran has a system rooted in institutions and causes. The Islamic cause is the primary shaping factor of its institutions. Western propaganda outlets constantly deny this reality in order to delegitimize Iran at the regional level. It is a crucial geopolitical goal of NATO regimes.

However, more sophisticated anti-Iran pundits admit that Iran’s political life is decentralized and overall study of elections in Iran shows that elections serve as a societal pulse and an internal debate on governance.

Elections have been incorporated into the governing system as a public Islamic platform of societal debate. Therefore, to grasp issues during Iran’s electoral process, some familiarity with Islamic epistemology is necessary, something most Western sources do not bother doing out of intellectual laziness or pure arrogance. Westerners assume that electioneering worldwide must resemble Western patterns and norms. The white man’s burden is alive and kicking in many spheres of life.

While elections in Iran, as in most places worldwide, are about matters of governance affecting the daily lives of ordinary citizens, in Iran they are also a system of cadre-building and a form of collective “ijtihad” on certain public matters. Iran is not a secular democracy; its people made immense sacrifices to make sure that Iran remains an Islamic Republic.

Since the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic government in Iran has never canceled or even postponed elections. Even when it faced Saddam Husain’s onslaught from 1980 to 1988, elections were held on time. Saddam’s murderous war was backed by all the Western powers and the USSR as well as the Arabian regimes. In a rare display of unanimity, the two rival blocs of the cold war worked together against the Islamic system of governance.

When Imam Khomeini (ra) was asked to cancel elections during the US-backed war on Islamic Iran, he refused. Elections were held regularly and on time.

A research study from 2010 by Dr. Ansia Khaz Ali shows that participation in Iran’s socio-political life increased dramatically after the revolution through elections.

Thus, the upcoming presidential elections in Iran are not bombastic or spectacular. It is an ordinary electoral process which aims to resolve local issues first and foremost, as all politics everywhere is first and foremost local.

Analyzing Iran’s elections in a politically savvy manner requires detailed awareness of its internal political issues and societal trends. Most external media outlets, including Crescent International, have limited grasp of local matters. If a foreign-based media outlet is not honest about this aspect, its take on the upcoming presidential elections means it is agenda driven or at best intellectually dishonest.

Thus, our overview of Iran’s elections is limited to analysis of the overall spectrum of candidates, rather than their specific political programs and election campaigning.

The spectrum of candidates for the upcoming presidential elections manifests a reality that in Iran, since the Islamic Revolution, the society and the governing system have managed to cultivate a broad array of politicians from various strategic spheres of society.

Resumes of presidential candidates Ebrahim Raisi, Mohsen Rezaei, Saeed Jalili, Alireza Zakani, Seyyed Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Albdolnasser Hemmati, and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh all manifest a reality that it is the human capital of the Islamic movement in Iran that has cultivated competent leadership. The list approved by the Guardian Council was released on May 25.

Some well-known figures, such as Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, as well as former Revolutionary Guards Commander, Hossein Dehghan, did not make it to the list.

Analysis of the background of candidates points to the fact that Iran’s various governing institutions have cultivated an environment where leaders of different views find political space to project their outlook on the process of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Even a biased but somewhat reasonable observer cannot label Iran’s political landscape as monotonous.

Objective study of the electoral process in Iran since the Islamic Revolution shows that elections act as a self-cleansing procedure of the process which started with the Revolution in 1979 and is still ongoing.

Observation of local Iranian press and social media platforms immediately reveals the fact that in Iran elections are never about replacing the Islamic system of governance. “Toppling” the Islamic system narrative has no relevance in Iran and is confined to the exiled Iranian community with no local influence or support. They are propped up by foreign masters through financial patronage.

With the above foundational concepts in mind, from our perspective, the key internal political issue in the upcoming presidential elections in Iran is the implementation of the economic development strategy outlined by the Rahbar and Vali-e Faqih (Guardian Jurist), Imam Khamenei.

Known as the resistance economy, it is centered around the idea of “consumption management based on the promotion of consumption of local products parallel to the qualitative improvement of domestic production.” This economic strategy has not yet fully taken off, but its initial implementation protected Iran from succumbing to one of the world’s most brutal economic sanctions regime.

It is now understood by the wider Iranian society that the economic leverage will be the West’s primary pressure tool against Iran. Even if certain economic sanctions are lifted, most analysts understand this will be a temporary measure. NATO regimes will never accept an independent Islamic governing system in Iran or elsewhere. While a direct conventional war against Iran is out of the question, economic war will remain the primary choice against the Islamic Republic. With this in mind, the presidential candidate likely to succeed in winning most votes will be the one who is able to convince the wider public that he will break the effects of sanctions not through treaties with foreign powers, but by boosting domestic manufacturing industry in Iran.

Based on the list of candidates, those with experience in managing organizations involved in finance and impact on the real domestic economy will have a better chance.

In the coming weeks, we recommend our readers to keep an eye on candidates with concrete economic programs framed around the paradigm of resistance economy.

Iran has achieved undeniable geopolitical influence and military deterrence. Economy remains its primary area of combat with the enemies of the Islamic Republic.

The candidate whose campaign team manages to put forward an easy to understand and realistic methodology rooted in the resistance of economy strategy, will likely get elected.

However, Iran’s Islamic electoral process has a history of delivering surprises. Therefore, we would advise caution. But one thing is clear: to have a realistic picture of elections in Iran, readers should take the perspective of the Western media on Iran’s elections with significant skepticism. It is always biased and agenda-driven.

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