Iran’s government was widely criticized and mocked Saturday, after the Interior Minister called “epic” the run-off parliamentary elections that recorded the lowest turnout in the 45-year history of the Islamic Republic.

Around eight percent of those eligible showed up at the polling stations on Friday, highlighting the near-complete rupture between the people and the state in Iran –a country where turnouts higher than 50 percent were a given until recently.

“The second round of elections has ended. Thank God people created an epic,” interior minister Ahmad Vahidi posted on X, causing a backlash that was as funny as it was irate.

“Dear minister for interior, is an eight-percent turnout in a run-off election epic,” Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a deputy to the former President Khatami asked. “You either don’t know what 8 percent is, or you don’t know what epic is.”

It wasn’t just the ‘reformist’ Abtahi though. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, a former intelligence man who headed the Ministry of Communications until three years ago, ridiculed the interior minister with a comment right under his original post on X.

“By epic, he likely means those 92 percent that didn’t take part [in the run-off election] in Tehran,” Jahromi wrote. “God bless those who were in charge of this election.”

The scornful tone was echoed by many ordinary users of social media who couldn’t help underlining the irony, the unabashed denial of daylight at noon by the IRGC-commander turned interior minister Vahidi.

“More people have posted a picture of the northern lights than took part in the run-off elections in Tehran,” one said, referring to the natural phenomenon that normally occurs in northern latitudes, but which on Saturday had been spotted in Iran.

Just above half a million voted in the capital Tehran, where eligible voters numbered near eight million, according to official data. The candidate with the most votes got around 270,000 or 3.5 percent of those eligible to vote. It was more or less the same story in 21 other constituencies that had to hold a run-off, including major cities such as Mashhad, Tabriz and Shiraz.

The ultra-hardline daily Kayhan, which is widely believed to be the unofficial voice of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and which splashes on its front page any election story, gave this one a side box with a small-font headline. More interestingly, it rephrased Vahidi’s “epic” statement so that the much-ridiculed word would not feature on its own.

The elections Friday, the “epic” statement, and the reactions to it, put together, were a telling example of all that’s wrong with the regime in Iran: lack of legitimacy, blundering incompetence, factionalism, and above all, widespread scorn for official politics and the institutions of state.

The turnout –historically and strikingly low– no longer seems to be a backlash against the Guardian Council and its blocking of ‘reformist’ candidates. It looks much more like a complete and final abandonment of the game, no matter who gets (or doesn’t get) to play.

A ‘parliament’ filled with Members elected by one-digit percentages of eligible voters is obviously not representative. More important, however, and more ominous for those ruling Iran, perhaps, is that hardly anyone speaks about representation any more.

Source » iranintl