Posted by: Lister | June 14, 2009

Iranian Elections

Juan Cole makes some good points. I’m not sure there’s much to the speculation he includes. Here’s some data to back up a couple of his points.


Ahmadinejad had apparently taken the northwestern city of Tabriz with some ease.

Tabriz is the heart of East Azerbaijan, and Azeris are among the tightest ethnic groups in the country, unfailingly voting along ethnic lines.

In the 2005 presidential election, Mohsen Mehralizadeh was a largely unknown and wholly unsuccessful candidate. He came in seventh and last, and yet he still won the Azeri vote in the Azerbaijani provinces. Mir Hossein Mousavi is an Azeri from Tabriz.

Ahmadinejad is claimed to have Tabriz with 57% of the vote.

Mehdi Karoubi got 17% of the vote in 2005. This time round, he got less than 1% — it is claimed.

Neither of these prove fraud, but they need explanation. Don’t they?



  1. Robert Fisk describes some of the violence going on in Iran at the moment. “A smash in the face, a kick in the balls … Long Live Ahmadinejad.”

    He also quotes a friend who says that Ahmadinejad may well have won in the Azeri regions because of such things as opening “university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri.”

    This sounds more like the kind of issue most people would vote on. It’s a bit racist to suggest that Azeris are so racist that the ethnicity of the candidate is the most important factor.

  2. Nate Silver asks why anyone would fake an election result so badly. He concentrates on one particular stat: the linearity of the results as they were reported in several waves.

    I’ll quote this part:

    To be clear, these results certainly do not prove that Iran’s election was clean. I have no particular reason to believe the results reported by the Interior Ministry. But I also don’t have any particular reason to disbelieve them, at least based on the statistical evidence. If Moosavi truly did have the support of a majority of Iran’s citizenry, the best evidence we will have of that is what happens in the streets of Tehran over the next days and weeks.

  3. Shots fired in Tehran, some reports of deaths amongst protestors.

    The rally had been banned by the authorities and was initially called off by Mousavi amid fears of violence. But tens of thousands of people, dressed in Mousavi’s green campaign colours, took to the streets, chanting “God is great” and “We fight, we die – we will not accept this vote-rigging”.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered an investigation into the claims of vote-rigging.

    Iran’s leaders spent the weekend urging people to accept the result but today Khamenei ordered an investigation into allegations of vote-rigging and fraud.

    Iranian state television said he had told the guardian council, the clerical body that oversees elections, to examine Mousavi’s claims of widespread vote-rigging.

    The guardian council was reported to have said it would take no more than 10 days to hand down its ruling after complaints from Mousavi and another candidate, Mohsen Rezai.

    There are also other sets of results — including one which puts Karoubi in second place, Ahmadinejad in 3rd. It’s not clear what these are based on.

    A US think tank says the official results are consistent with a phone poll they did of the entire country.

  4. Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty on their opinion poll:

    The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.

    […] The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our preelection survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.

    Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.

    Ken Ballen works for Terror Free Tomorrow, where John McCain is listed as being on the advisory board.

  5. Mark Colvin, at ABC, states something which I think I read in one of Fisk’s articles:

    And what’s more [Karroubi] has a party with 400,000 members and they say that his vote was only 320,000.

    Not impossible, but needs explaining.

  6. An update from the BBC.

    At least 8 people reported to have been killed.

    The Guardian council will recount votes. That might not be enough for Mousavi, who is asking for a rerun of the election. The fear is that some votes are actually missing.

  7. AP:

    The U.S.-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said that several dozen noted figures associated with Iran\’s reformist movement had been arrested Tuesday, among them politicians, intellectuals, activists and journalists.

    At least 10 Iranian journalists have been arrested since the election, “and we are very worried about them, we don’t know where they have been detained,” Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders told AP Television News in Paris. He added that some people who took pictures with cell phones also were arrested.

    A Web site run by former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said the reformist had been arrested.

    Saeed Hajjarian, a prominent reformer, also has been detained, Hajjarian’s wife, Vajiheh Masousi, told the AP. Hajjarian is a close aide of former President Mohammad Khatami.

    Iran’s most senior dissident cleric said Tuesday that the ruling Islamic system had no political or religious legitimacy because of widespread vote fraud in Friday’s presidential election.

    Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said “no sound mind” would accept the results.

    “A government that is based on intervening in (people’s) vote has no political or religious legitimacy,” said Montazeri, who had once been set to succeed Khomeini as supreme leader until he was ousted because of criticisms of the revolution.

  8. Khamenei’s speech asking for the protests to stop… Or else.

    Protests continue, police use tear gas and water-cannons.

    witnesses told The Associated Press news agency that between 50 and 60 protesters had been seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia.

    […] As the clashes took place, a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up outside the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979, injuring at least two people.

  9. Channel 4 reports 10 dead in latest clashes.

  10. A video of the death of a woman has been posted. She is named Neda. Neither CNN nor al-Jazeera can verify the events due to reporting restrictions. The latter puts Saturday’s death toll at 13.

    On Saturday, about 3,000 opposition protesters had spilled on to Tehran’s streets, undaunted by a warning from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, not to continue demonstrations.

    Security forces responded with live rounds, batons and tear gas, with the pandemonium continuing well into the night.

    Witnesses said that dozens of people were hospitalised after being beaten by police and the pro-government Basiji militia.

    Reports on community-driven websites such as Twitter claim a number of protesters were killed by police in the clashes.

    One video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday alleged to show a teenage girl – being called Neda – dying on the street after being shot by police.

    […] Including Saturday’s toll, the Iranian government has admitted to the deaths of at least 20 people in unrest since the June 12 election.

    State broadcaster IRINN said 100 people were injured Saturday’s violence.

  11. PressTV isn’t always reliable, but I don’t see a reason for them to lie about this:

    “Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,” Kadkhodaei said.

    Kadkhodaei further explained that the voter turnout of above 100% in some cities is a normal phenomenon because there is no legal limitation for people to vote for the presidential elections in another city or province to which people often travel or commute.

    […] The spokesman, however, said that the vote tally affected by such issues could be over 3 million and would not noticably affect the outcome of the election.

    The BBC reports on the PressTV article, and also says:

    An independent British analysis of the disputed election results has found irregularities in the reported turnout, as well as “implausible” swings in the vote in favour of Mr Ahmadinejad.

    Analysts from St Andrew’s University and the Chatham House think-tank said votes in favour of Mr Ahmadinejad in a third of the provinces would have required an “unlikely scenario” of voting patterns.

  12. The analysis referred to by the BBC:

    The study says: “In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.”

    You can see the point raised by looking at results from the provinces.

    Take Hamedan. In 2005, Mr Ahmadinejad won 195,000 votes. In 2009, it was 765,000 – a difference of 570,000.

    If you add to his 2005 vote the others who voted for conservative candidates in that year (97,000) and the non-voters (218,000), you reach only 510,000.

    To get to the total declared of 765,000 this year, many reformist voters from 2005 must also have voted for Mr Ahmadinejad.

    They also make caveats and refer to the opinion poll of Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty, which I mentioned earlier.

    In turn, others have questioned the significance of this poll finding.

    Professor Mansoor Moaddel of Michigan University pointed out that “key political events occurred between the data gathering and the election” and that “of 1,731 people contacted, well over half either refused to participate (42.2%) or did not indicate a preferred candidate (15.6%).”

  13. A wiki article on Neda Agha-Soltan.

  14. Regarding the PressTV article, The NYTimes says:

    “Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100 percent of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80 to 170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,” said Mr. Kadkhodaei said Monday. He said this outcome could occur because people may vote anywhere they choose, not necessarily only in their district of registration.

    But many districts where the excess votes were recorded are small, remote places rarely visited by business travelers or tourists, analysts said, raising questions about how so many extra votes could have been counted in so many different areas.

    […] How did the government manage to count enough of the 40 million paper ballots to be able to announce results within two hours of the polls closing? How is it that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s margin of victory remained constant throughout the ballot count? Why did the government order polls closed at 10 p.m. when they often stay open until midnight for presidential races? Why were some ballot boxes sealed before candidates’ inspectors could validate they were empty? Why were votes counted centrally, by the Interior Ministry, instead of locally, as in the past? Why did some polling places lock their doors at 6 p.m. after running out of ballots?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: