The second round of sham parliamentary elections in Iran has brought to light a critical predicament within the regime, one that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had fervently tried to overcome by sidelining disobedient officials and purifying his dwindling authority. However, it proved to be a resounding failure. After decades of governance built upon propaganda and carefully crafted narratives, state media and officials now find themselves forced to admit not only the political, social, and economic challenges but also the grave crisis of legitimacy their regime is facing.

For decades, Iranian resistance has asserted that the regime lacks popular support and maintains power through repression and torture. The uprisings of the Iranian people since 2017 have underscored the regime’s unpopularity. Particularly during the 2022 uprising, it became evident that Iranians desire the overthrow of the entire regime and the establishment of a democratic republic. One of the primary slogans of the uprising was “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the leader”. The volatile state of Iranian society and widespread disdain for the regime have escalated to the extent that even the regime’s staunchest allies recognize the absence of public participation in elections, as well as the regime’s deceptive propaganda regarding voter turnout.

In the second round of sham parliamentary elections the regime’s initial recourse to its traditional playbook fell short. Ahmad Vahidi, Minister of Interior in Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet, took to X (formerly Twitter) at the conclusion of the election proceedings, stating on Saturday, “The second stage of the elections has drawn to a close. Thanks to God, the people have forged an epic. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the honorable citizens. I also express my appreciation to my colleagues in the Ministry of Interior, the security and law enforcement agencies, the Guardian Council, and popular election monitors.”

The latter has stirred strong reactions within the regime. Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, the Minister of Communications in Hassan Rouhani’s government, stated: “By ‘epic,’ the Minister of Interior refers to the 92% voter abstention in Tehran.”

Hesamoddin Ashna, an advisor to Hassan Rouhani, also wrote on his X account, “If we consider this level of participation an ‘epic,’ then we have deprived ourselves and the government of the necessity to critically assess the current situation.”

Abdolnasser Hemati, former governor of the Central Bank, commented on X, saying: “Does the Minister of Interior’s characterization of the recent elections as an “epic” and considering the representation of the parliament with 3 to 5 percent of the people’s votes as “acceptable” imply that they are seeking a more “acceptable epic” for the 2025 [presidential] elections?”

Reza Rashidpour, a former moderator on state television who has distanced himself from the media for several years, reacted, “It is an honor for all of us that the esteemed Minister of the Interior understands the concept of ‘epic’.”

Hours after witnessing widespread reactions to his tweet, Ahmad Vahidi was forced to delete the post. However, the reactions in state media outlets went far beyond a mere stance taken against the Minister of Interior.

Many outlets reported that Bijan Nobaveh, a former employee of IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) who happened to become the frontrunner parliament candidate, has only secured 3.5 percent of the votes in this city. However, many observers argue that even this low figure should be viewed with skepticism, and the actual participation rate is likely lower than the government’s statistics.

The “Chand Sanieh” Telegram channel stated that the number of eligible voters in Tehran is 10 million, and Nobaveh received 26,904 votes. Thus, according to official statistics, the votes of the top performers in this show represent only half a percent of eligible voters.

On May 11, the state-run newspaper Farhikhtegan, belonging to Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Khamenei, wrote, “Unofficial figures indicating an ‘eight percent’ turnout in Tehran suggest that the elected representatives to the parliament are heading to the Majlis with a trivial number of votes. In the first round, the candidates ranked from 1st to 5th in Tehran received similar vote counts to those ranked from 31st to 40th in previous elections.”

On May 10, the Jamaran News website reported, “According to statistics provided up to this moment, the number of counted votes was 552,644, while the votes obtained in the first round were 1,569,857 indicating a decrease in participation.”

On May 11, the newspaper Ham Mihan, while admitting to the legitimacy crisis, referred to internal strife among ruling factions and wrote, “The twelfth parliamentary elections bore significance on several fronts, notably the reduced turnout among eligible voters. Yet, it’s imperative to balance these indicators against the internal strife brewing among conservative factions.”

On May 12, the state-run newspaper Resalat wrote, “The second round of elections is always less vibrant and weaker than the first round; now, under circumstances where the first round had a 25% participation rate, the catastrophe of such low participation as it happened on Friday, was unexpected.

Undermining the regime’s Supreme Leader’s efforts to consolidate power, the Resalat columnist further warned, “When we said that you’re not purifying the movement but rather emptying it, nobody paid attention. I insist on using terms like ‘catastrophe’, ‘crisis’, and a bit of ‘disdain’ in this writing so that we start getting our acts together.”

In this piece, Resalat explicitly highlighted that “92 percent of eligible voters abstained from turning out and said no” to the state.

The public outcry of state media and officials regarding the regime’s failure to mobilize this dismal figure as voter turnout, despite coercively deploying armed forces personnel, government employees, and their families to polling stations, should serve as a profoundly alarming signal for Khamenei and his cohorts. However, it’s crucial not to misinterpret these statements. Given that these same officials and their mouthpieces have been complicit in the regime’s crimes for decades, these warnings aren’t about heeding the people’s voice but rather about anticipating the repercussions of what happens when the overwhelming majority make their voices heard.

Source » ncr-iran