Anyone who has an eye on Iran’s politics, other than following the news from time to time, knows that seeing this ‘stolen election’ as being one between the democratic moderates and the religious extremists, is only half the story. The moderates in Iran like to cleverly paint themselves as Iran’s best chance at democracy, but they have never done anything other than allow neo-liberal style corruption to run rampant, chiefly to benefit their main supporters – the connected upper middle-classes, who seemed to be the only people the news reporters were talking to in the wake of the election. Both CNN and the BBC conducted interviews with people who at first glance didn’t even seem like Iranian citizens, with American and British accents, the results of having been educated in those countries.
Ahmedinejad is a hardliner, but his particular government has yet to achieve the number of people killed under the rein of so-called moderate Khatami, who appeared with promises of moderation and rights for women, but whose leadership saw no end to the numbers of men and women stoned to death under draconian laws. The same upper middle-classes are ones Ahmedinejad has not been pandering to, which is why they want him out.
The theocracy needs to fall in Iran, but not to be replaced by some sham neo-liberal pretence of democracy. As a number of other bloggers have asked, it’s not a case of ‘where have the votes gone?’ It is rather one of: were they actually there in the first place?