Iran’s election is on Friday, and campaigning is at a fever pitch. The London Times reports on the candidacy of Mir Hossein Mousavi, around whom urban Iranians who detest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appear to be rallying:
“Death to the Government,” chanted the several thousand Iranians packed into a football stadium in Tehran. “Death to dictators,” roared the young men and women, draped in green shirts, ribbons, bandanas and headscarves to signal their support for Mir Hossein Mousavi. “Bye-bye Ahmadi,” they sang as they waved a sea of banners for the man who hopes to topple Mr Ahmadinejad in the presidential election on Friday. “Don’t rig the election,” they added for good measure.
Mousavi, 67, is an unlikely hero for young urban sophisticates; a veteran of the Islamic revolution, he was Prime Minister from 1981 to 1989. The Times compares the enthusiasm for Mousavi to Obamania and the candidate himself to Bob Dole, but I wonder whether Eugene McCarthy might be the analogy that harmonizes these disparate images.
It appears that, whatever else may happen on Friday, Mousavi should do well with the women’s vote:
Of course, Ahmadinejad’s supporters have turned out in even more impressive numbers:
The Fars News Agency, which is privately owned but associated with Iran’s clerical elements and generally highly favorable to Ahmadinejad, celebrates the anticipated high turnout and “unprecedented political campaigning” accompanying this election. Notwithstanding the chants quoted above about rigging the election, news coverage seems to assume that votes will be more or less fairly counted. It’s an odd sort of tyranny.
PAUL adds: I understand that during his time in power, Mousavi was at the forefront of serious repression, particularly at Iran’s universities. Perhaps, he’s what passes for a moderate in Iran, but MEMRI contends that he and all other candidates belong to the “conservative camp” and that “the reformist camp that existed until 2005 has been wiped out by the regime.”