February 14, 2004

Setbacks in Iran

Iran is leading up to its elections next Friday, and more than 500 candidates have backed out in protest---the "Guardian Council" has blocked more than five times that many from running, mostly because they were too liberal.

It's sad that these people would back out voluntarily, especially with all the others forced out, although I don't know the situation on the ground; but in any case this is going to mark more uphill battle for reformist voices in Iran. I've been following the situation in Iran a little more closely than most, because I think that they provide the best hope for true democracy in the Middle East right now. They're not there yet, obviously, but if they don't backslide, they could be just a decade or two away from it.

If you don't read that article, at least look at the information on this page. You may be surprised. Two-thirds of the country's population are under 30. Really! And of that number, the largest number is in the 10-19 age range---i.e. not voting yet, but they will in the next decade. The literacy rate is decent for the adult population, but essentially first-world for the late teens. Women vote, and they have since the 60s. There is much sentiment in favour of reform, and although President Khatami has achieved some reform, the youth of the country is disillusioned from the slow pace of it. I only hope that when they finally force their hand and take the Guardian Council out of power, that it is done peacefully; but when that happens, we'll see a much more democratic Iran within a year or two. (Which is not to say they'll be allied to the US. Let's not make the mistake of assuming that any true democracy would ally with us....)

Anyway, we're rooting for you, Iran. Good luck.

"There are few things as entertaining as watching Jonathan mow the lawn. I've never seen anyone amble/mosey/lollygag behind a mower before." --Kim Kinsella

Posted by blahedo at 2:12pm on 14 Feb 2004
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