One of the Obama Administration’s hopes for its nuclear deal with Iran was that it would empower regime moderates. So it’s no surprise that the deal’s cheerleaders are proclaiming Friday’s election results as a triumph for the Islamic Republic’s “moderate” and “reformist” factions. That depends on the meaning of the word “moderate.”
At stake Friday were seats in the Majlis, or Parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, the body that will select Iran’s next Supreme Leader. Like all Iranian elections, the vote was a carefully stage-managed process. Iranians picked from among candidates prescreened for ideological orthodoxy by the unelected Guardian Council and various security agencies.
The Guardians disqualified 6,000, or nearly half, of the original candidates to the Majlis. Of the 801 candidates to the Assembly of Experts, only a quarter, or 161, made it to the ballot. Most of the disqualified candidates belonged to the reformist and moderate factions of the regime. Imagine U.S. midterm elections in which the White House was able to ban all Tea Party or even non-progressive Democratic candidates from the ballot.
Which our IRS indirectly attempted to do. The Tea Party candidates, that is.
Western media are nonetheless describing the results as an “embarrassing defeat” for the regime’s hard-liners and the moderates’ “best nationwide electoral showing in more than a decade,” as the Associated Press put it. Of particular note are the results in the capital, Tehran, a national barometer where on Sunday it appeared that candidates on the moderate list had swept all 30 seats in the Majlis.
Some moderates. Consider Mostafa Kavakebian. The General Secretary of Iran’s Democratic Party, Mr. Kavakebian is projected to enter the Majlis as a member for Tehran. In a 2008 speech he said: “The people who currently reside in Israel aren’t humans, and this region is comprised of a group of soldiers and occupiers who openly wage war on the people.”