Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters apparently have gained an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections. Reformist parties opposed to the president stood scant chance of winnng sinc the Guardian Council, which approves all candidates, wiped off the ballot at least 200 reformists. Reform opponents of Ahmadenijad were only able to run candidates in about 60 of the 290 electoral districts. The Interior Minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, said 71% of votes went to conservative factions and 29% went to “other groups,” and we all know who that means. Abot 60% of voters turned out which conservatives hailed as a dramatic challenge to America which has been attacking Ahmadinejad.
The cnservatives are split, one faction is upset at the inept economic performance of Ahmadinejad whose handling of the nation’s economy has resulted in an 18% inflation rate and high unemployment. Ahmadinejad has been able to use Western rhetoric, particularly statements by President Bush, to cast himself as a defender of Iran against foreign elements which seek to overthrow the government.
The best way for the United States to help reform groups in Iran is to lower the threat rhetoric and emphasize the need for disscusions and peace with Iran.