Elections have served to perpetuate the factional pluralism inherent in the Islamic Republic since its inception. While elections are not agents of democratization or de-democratization by themselves in the Islamic Republic, they do significantly affect the balance of power among competing factions operating within the system. Iran’s elections provide an institutional mechanism that facilitates the rise and demise of factions and the formation and dissolution of strategic alliances; they manage factional conflict, and introduce an element of political uncertainty
Iran’s Presidential Election: The Failure of Managed Functionalism
Iran’s elections have historically managed factional conflict without altering the institutional distribution of power. Against this political background, the June 2009 elections stand out as a unique event. Elections that once served to manage conflict have now become a destabilizing factor. While the regime appears to have forcefully silenced the widespread post-election protests, the 2009 uprising shows the new limits of elections in managing factional conflict, which spread out to include Iran’s people. The regime grossly miscalculated not just the effects of massive public participation in the 2009 elections, but also the buildup of widespread grievances among a substantial section of Iran’s citizens. The protests have aggravated the ruling elite’s fear of a “velvet revolution” instigated by the West. Consequently, post-election negotiations between Iran and the Western powers regarding Iran’s nuclear program are likely to meet significant obstacles, since recent events have further diminished confidence between Iran and its antagonists.
Mousavi’s core supporters were the educated, urban, middle-class and most resourceful segments of Iranian society, who shared a deep hostility towards the Ahmedinejad government.
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