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Iran held its national election process to select its next president on Friday, June 12th. With all the televised demonstrations and Internet buzz it was logical to believe Iran's current leader, the not-well-liked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , would be beaten by his progressive challenger Mr. Hossein Mousavi. Indeed, late on Friday in America, some reports were that Mousavi was on pace to upset Ahmadinejad considering the vote count. But by Saturday that was not to be; the Iranian Elections Commission annouced that Ahmadinejad was the winner with 62.6 percent of the popular vote compared to 33.75 percent for Mousavi.
Did he really win?
The outcome upset many who believed it was rigged and caused violent street protests that are still going on as of this writing on Sunday (Twitter is the best place to keep up with the developments). The belief that Ahmadinejad's victory may have been engineered is one commmunicated in modern fashion by text message and the Internet, but has its roots in a set of very real considerations borne of Iranian culture:
1) Any unbiased reporting of the election process is improbable because Iran punishes investigative journalists, as happened to Roxana Saberi, the woman who was recently held in detention for over three months for being a "spy" when all the student reporter had done was write about real life in Iran and Islam including pro-American groups, whereas the government sends videos of constant pockets of anti-American demonstrations. She was released on May 10th, just one month before election day. In Iran, journalists are imprisoned, threatened, and alledgedly killed.
2) Researcher Muhammad Sahimi looked at the election data from Iran's Interior Ministry and determined that there's a perfect linear relationship between the votes that Ahmadinejad received and those that Mousavi got, such that Mousavi's votes are perfectly one-half of Ahmadinejad's for the data set analyzed and the correlation coefficient is .9995 - almost one, which means almost perfect. That's weird, folks. There should be a non-linear vote count - in other words, one for you, two for me; one for you, none for me; and so on.
3) Juan Cole, a Mid East observer of the Global American Institute, holds that Mousavi is a Azeri from the Azerbajan province, of which Tabriz is the capital, yet Ahmadinejad won that city with 57 percent of the vote. In other words, Mousavi failed to carry his home region's capital city which many are questioning given the common election rule that a campaigner generally wins the vote in their home region, even in a loss. (Cole and Sahimi did not share information as of this writing and I'm not even sure they know of each other.)
4) Given Mousavi's reportedly poor relations with top Iranian leaders, Cole charges that the country's electoral commission was told to falsify the vote count.
All of this gurantees that the election was "rigged" to some degree. But just by how much is known only to those who did the rigging. The fact this idea is now commonly accepted by many, perhaps millions, should be of concern to President Ahmadinejad, who can't say he has a true mandate to run Iran as he sees fit. He has to "open the government" if only to quell future massive uprisings. He can't matain the practices he established entering the election; his true enemy, the Internet, will prevent that.