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How do Elections Work In Iran?

June 8, 2009

How much do Americans know about Iran? Is our knowledge limited to the “axis of evil” language of George W. Bush and the holocaust denial of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Any idea of how Iran’s leadership is selected? Or what role, if any, more moderate voices play in Iranian politics? There has been some good, in-depth reporting of Iranian culture and history in the mainstream American media (See, Ted Koppel for the Discovery Channel; Christiane Amanpour, herself born in Iran, at CNN ) but, in the main, Iran is typically presented as a metaphor for anti-Americanism and hostile Islam. The whole story is, as usual, both more complicated and more interesting. An excerpt from the Economist:

• IRANIANS go to the polls on Friday June 12th to elect a president. The incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is tipped for another term in office despite widespread dissatisfaction with his handling of the country’s economy and doubts in some quarters about his belligerent foreign policy and nuclear ambitions. Mir Hosein Mousavi, a moderate rival, poses the greatest threat to Mr Ahmadinejad. If no candidate wins 50% of the vote, then a run-off election would be held on June 19th.

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