As we all know, everything in this world is relative, but some relativities still continue to deliver a surprise. So, where would you go to find a little bit of an apologia for Iranian 'democracy'? You'd go, of course, to the Guardian of British liberalism, and you'd look first towards the Seumas Milne pages. You wouldn't be disappointed. The man who was telling us only two days ago that American democracy isn't quite good enough by European standards is today putting in a good word for the Iranian election. I refer to Jonathan Steele, veteran of the genre:
Some Iranians, including respected human rights advocates, are calling for a boycott; their concern is not that the choice is narrow, but that whoever wins will be politically impotent and that, by participating, voters will legitimise a phoney system. The dilemma is similar to the one Iraqis faced in January. Those who urged a boycott claimed the election would legitimise the US occupation and produce a government that would not be sovereign. It was a reasonable argument, and western commentators who claim Iraq's election was a triumph of democracy while Iran's is hollow need to be sure they are not using double standards.Well, next door at Harry's Place Marcus has the lowdown on the restrictions applying to this election, and Harry has some pertinent observations on Steele's Iran/Iraq comparison. Somewhere else you might want to look for a more - how shall I put this? - robust view of the Iranian election is here:
Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.Who is it saying this? Why, it's the President of the United States of America. These are some of the relativities that continue to surprise one. Liberal newspapers and veteran left-wing journalists spouting apologetic drivel while some of the politicians they most despise tell it like it is. That is where we are.
The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record. Iran's rulers denied more than a thousand people who put themselves forward as candidates, including popular reformers and women who have done so much for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.