Americans should not forget, amid all the attention to the evil doings of Iran, that Iran does have elections, presidential ones, every four years, with the next round scheduled for Friday.
That said, these are Iranian elections, conducted under the watchful, oppressive eyes of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the other ayatollahs, not bearing much resemblance to elections in places like France, Britain or the United States, although each of those countries’ elections, too, have their own idiosyncrasies.
First of all, every candidate for president of Iran must be approved to run by the Guardian Council, a group of old, conservative ayatollahs for the most part. Six candidates made it past that wire this time, although one has since dropped out. Someone, perhaps the Guardian Council, suggested strongly to previous controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he not run this time.
Coming into Friday there are still five candidates in the race, although two of these are expected to drop out before the polling, in an attempt to consolidate support behind the favorite candidate of the conservatives, Ebrahim Raisi.
The favorite in the race is President Hassan Rouhani. Iranian presidents normally win two terms, so Rouhani may receive a second term. From the point of view of the likely future well-being of the Iranian people, Rouhani is probably the best candidate. In his favor, in spite of some spiky positions taken by the Iranian government, is the fact that it was under his leadership that Iran arrived at the agreement with China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States to bridle Iran’s nuclear weapons program for a period in return for the removal of some economic and financial sanctions in place against it.
That accord has not brought Iranians the great improvement in their economic situation that they had hoped for, and that Rouhani had promised, but it has made a difference. The United States has dragged its feet for political reasons on taking advantage of the new open door to trade and investment in Iran that the agreement was billed to bring. One exception was two large orders to Boeing for some $23 billion for new commercial aircraft. Boeing estimates that the sale could result in as many as 18,000 new jobs for Americans.
There has been some grumbling in Washington about the Iran nuclear deal having been a bad bet for the United States, but it is also obvious that even if the United States pulled out of the agreement, the Europeans and other signatories would not, thus putting America in the position of shooting itself in the foot, not damaging Iran, by its action.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE