February 26, 2020

ILLEGITIMATE: In Iran, an Electoral Flop.

According to the official Fars News Agency, just 42 percent of Iranians voted in the country’s latest parliamentary elections, which took place on Friday. That’s the lowest percentage ever recorded in the 41-year history of the Islamic Republic. (By way of comparison: The turnout for Iran’s last parliamentary elections, in 2016, was approximately 60 percent.) Yet there’s good reason to believe that even those official numbers are inflated, and perhaps significantly so. Outside reports, relying on internal Iranian media sources, indicate that actual voting tallies fell far below the official 42 percent figure, forcing the regime to keep polling stations open longer than planned to scrape together even a minimum number of legitimate votes.

If you’ve been paying attention to events in Iran, that lackluster showing shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Over the past two years, persistent protests in practically every major Iranian city — and at virtually every stratum of Iranian society — have showcased a population that has become profoundly disaffected with the country’s clerical regime. These protests have flared anew in recent weeks, following the Iranian government’s accidental January 8 downing of a Ukrainian airliner amid heightened tensions with the United States. That event helped to convince many Iranians that their government is dangerously incompetent, and a real hazard to their own safety.

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