Friday, June 26, 2009

Electing Mousavi Would Not Have Been Enough

There has been quite an uproar about the recent disputed presidential election in Iran. Millions of protesters have taken the streets in Iran protesting the results, as there were accusations of irregularities in the election process. The election, which took place on June 12 of this year, saw incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadenijad defeat Mir-Hossein Mousavi with an astonishing 63% of the vote.

The election of Mousavi in the disputed Iranian presidential election, however, would not have produced the change that Iran needs. Mousavi would have represented a step in the direction of reform and would have changed the face and tone of Iranian politics. Mousavi, however, would not have changed the content of Iranian politics. Furthermore, the structure of the Iranian political system would not have allowed him the leeway to make changes. It’s the system that’s broken.

The election of Mousavi would have ushered in many changes in the Iranian political landscape. Mousavi is a supporter of personal freedom, women’s rights and was open to more diplomatic relations with the United States. However, Mousavi, like Ahmadenijad, is a staunch supporter of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Mousavi would have differed in his approach to enrichment; he would have asked for an international consortium for oversight.

Even with all of the aforementioned changes, Mousavi would not have significantly changed the politics of Iran, as the Iranian president does not hold a significant amount of power in the Iranian political system. The Supreme Leader of Iran (Ali Khamenei) is the most powerful office in Iranian politics. The Supreme Leader is responsible for the direction of Iranian policy and the country as a whole. The president of Iran is responsible for the execution of policy and law rather than the formulation of policy and law.

Mousavi would have remained second fiddle to Khamenei were he elected, as he would have had to play the game that Khamenei wanted. He would need much more freedom to make policy than the office of the presidency of Iran would have afforded him.

This is all an afterthought, however. It is exceedingly likely that Ahmadenijad will remain in power, meaning the world will continue to see the same type of abrasive politics that it is used to from Iran. There will be no change after all.

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