Things to Keep an Eye on in Iran (plus pre-election polling data)

by Joshua Tucker on June 12, 2009 · 2 comments

in Campaigns and elections,Comparative Politics

Iran_Flag.gif

As a follow up to my “previous post”:http://www.themonkeycage.org/2009/06/just_what_is_iran_1.html, things are apparently starting to get very interesting in Iran, with “both sides declaring victory”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098305.stm amid extremely high turnout, even though results are just starting to come in. A few things to keep an eye on as this develops:

bq. If the authorities declare Ahmadinejad the winner, will the opposition forces supporting Mousavi have enough hard evidence to claim that the results were falsified? The BBC is “currently reporting”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8098305.stm that Mousavi has claimed that his election monitors were denied access to polling stations, and that he has complained of “voting irregularities”.

bq. Wikipedia has a fascinating collection of pre-election polls posted “here”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_presidential_election,_2009#Opinion_polls. I couldn’t figure out exactly how to copy the table into the post, but the numbers are all over the place. Polls released just in June have Mousavi getting anywhere from 28% to 64% of the vote, and Ahmadinejad receiving between 23% and 63% of the vote [Caveat: some of these polls are nationwide, some are from "major cities" only]. Slightly more polls have Mousavi ahead. Pre-election polls may come into play if massive fraud is alleged.

bq. Remember that this is a two round election. So if neither candidate wins a majority of the election in the first round – and there are four candidates competing in the first round – then a second would be held next week.

bq. If opposition supporters take to the street, a key question will be if the regime will try to use force quickly. This crucially did not happen in any of the successful “Colored Revolutions”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_Revolutions, and I have “argued elsewhere”:http://homepages.nyu.edu/~jat7/POP_5_3_Tucker.pdf that this can play an important roll in determining the size of subsequent crowds of protesters. I’d be interested in the opinions of anyone who knows something about Iran whether they think we would see a quick show of force.

bq. It will be interesting to see if Twitter plays any role in coordinating opposition action in Iran. I am already seeing a lot of posts on Twitter when you search for “Iran Election”, but am not sure what, if any, role Twitter might be playing within Iran. Anyone know anything about this? (For more on the potential role of Twitter in facilitation protest in the aftermath of electoral fraud, see “here”:http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2009/04/twitter_revolution_social_netw.html)

{ 2 comments }

Dmitry Gorenburg June 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm

News reports indicate that the text messaging system in Iran has either crashed or been taken down deliberately by the government. Combined with reports of Iran’s official news agency declaring Ahmadinejad the winner very early in the vote count with an unlikely 68% of the vote, early indications may be that the government is 1) acting to ensure an incumbent victory and 2) acting to prevent a colored revolution type of mobilization. If this holds, we can categorize Iran as a competitive authoritarian state.

Joshua Tucker June 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Live blogging at Huffington Post suggests that Twitter in Iran may have been recently shut down. See “here”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html. This may also be a good source for updates generally.

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