Erfan Fard

Sham Elections: The Mullahs’ Propaganda Machine

the Iranian Regime's Propaganda for 6 candidates - Picture: Radio California - Free for all media

As Iran gears up for yet another presidential election on June 18th, the facade of democracy grows increasingly thin, revealing the stark reality of a regime obsessed with preserving its authoritarian grip on power or meticulously engineers absolute control. These Scheduled elections, neither free nor fair, are a meticulously orchestrated charade designed to perpetuate the illusion and veneer of legitimacy both at home and abroad.

At the heart of Iran’s political system is Ali Khamenei, who exerts ultimate authority, including over the election process. At the core of this sham lies the Guardian Council, an unelected body loyal to Ali Khamenei. This council wields disproportionate power in vetting candidates, ensuring that only those sanctioned by the regime’s inner circle are permitted to run. The disqualification of numerous candidates, including moderates and reformists, is a deliberate attempt to rob these elections of their true essence and prevent the Iranian people from exercising their fundamental right to choose their leaders freely.

The regime’s theorists and philosophers have openly rejected the principles of democracy, pluralism, and the right of the people to choose their rulers, as these concepts fundamentally contradict the absolute version of Velayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) that underpins the Islamic Republic.[1] This rejection of democratic norms is not merely rhetorical; it is a calculated strategy to maintain the ruling elite’s stranglehold on power.

This year, as in every election cycle, the candidates are carefully vetted to project a false sense of democratic process to the world, rather than to represent the people’s will.

The candidates permitted to run are carefully vetted to ensure their unwavering loyalty to the Supreme Leader and the principles of the Islamic Revolution. They are mere pawns in a game orchestrated by the ruling elite, with no genuine platform or ability to effect meaningful change in the country’s policies or direction. The presidency itself is a position tightly constrained within the parameters set by clerical leadership, with the president managing day-to-day affairs but having no real control over key state instruments, particularly the military and security apparatus.[2]

The regime’s fear of genuine democratic participation is well-founded, as evidenced by the widespread protests and unrest that have erupted in recent years, most notably in November 2019, when security forces allegedly killed over 1,500 protesters.[3] The brutal crackdown on these protests and the regime’s failure to address the legitimate grievances of the Iranian people have further eroded its credibility and highlighted the disconnect between the ruling elite and the aspirations of the populace.

Recognizing the futility of their votes in a system rigged against genuine change, many Iranians, particularly women and the younger generation, have grown increasingly disillusioned and choose to boycott these elections as a form of silent protest against the regime’s oppressive policies.[4] The widespread calls for boycotting, spearheaded by activists and families of political prisoners, are a powerful statement of defiance against a system that has consistently failed to uphold the principles of democracy and human rights.

Despite the regime’s efforts to portray these elections as a democratic exercise, the reality is far from it. The internal political dynamics reflect a broader struggle within the regime between various factions, each backed by different power centers within the theocracy, including the IRGC thugs. However, despite apparent factional battles, there is a unifying thread: all factions are committed to preserving the status quo and the regime’s grip on power.[5]

In a nation where approximately 10-15% of the populace still supports the outdated and fanatical ideologies of the regime, the vast majority of Iranians see the electoral process not as a mechanism of change, but as a tool to perpetuate a facade of legitimacy and democracy where none exists.[6] The regime’s extensive surveillance and censorship apparatus makes it nearly impossible for opposition groups or reformists to gain any significant traction or to present their views to the public freely.

As the world watches the unfolding of these sham elections, it is crucial to recognize them for what they truly are: a carefully orchestrated charade designed to perpetuate the ruling elite’s grip on power and maintain the illusion of legitimacy. The Iranian people deserve better than this facade of democracy. They deserve a system that respects their fundamental rights, upholds the principles of genuine pluralism and free elections, and provides them with a real voice in shaping the future of their nation.

The international community, particularly the media, must look beyond the surface and recognize the inherent authoritarianism that stifles the Iranian people’s hopes for genuine democratic governance. By mislabeling these orchestrated spectacles as “elections,” mainstream Western media perpetuate the regime’s propaganda and undermine the struggle for democracy within Iran.[7] It is time to call out this charade for what it is and lend our voices to the chorus demanding true democracy and freedom for the Iranian people.

In conclusion, the upcoming presidential election in Iran is yet another orchestrated exercise in faux democracy, a mechanism for the regime to renew its legitimacy and stifle genuine calls for reform. It is crucial for international observers to recognize that these elections are a carefully staged play, meant to sustain the illusion of democracy in a system fundamentally undemocratic. The Iranian people deserve a system that respects their rights, upholds genuine pluralism and free elections, and allows them to truly shape their nation’s future. As long as the power structure remains unchanged, elections in Iran will continue to be a sham, offering no real choice to its citizens.

Each of the 6 candidates has a criminal record, and the selection of any of them will bring the sound of new suppression and crimes.

  1. Pezeshkian: Someone who wore the uniform of the terrorist organization of the Revolutionary Guards and was proud of it, and denied the crimes of the regime in the death of Zahra Kazemi.
  2. Pourmohammadi: A criminal and murderer whose name always comes up in the crimes of the 1970s and 1980s in the contemporary history of the Islamic Republic.
  3. Zakani: Comes from the student Basij and IRGC, a repressive, criminal, and controversial figure.
  4. Qalibaf: A corrupt, thieving, and criminal individual who even colluded with drug cartels to benefit him and was one of the suppressors of protesting students.
  5. Jalili: A weak, delusional, radical character who is a lover of the Shiite Islamic caliphate.
  6. Qazi Zadeh: From the criminal cabinet of Raisi, a character and face that has nothing but opportunism and servitude to the regime. It can be said that there is a dearth of men in Iran, and the people of Iran have well realized that the book of the Islamic Republic has reached its last page and has nothing to offer.
Ali Khamenei, in brown robe with Iranian military leaders, has praised terrorists of Hamas for its cross-border attack on Israel. /ZUMA PRESS – Free for all platforms
About the Author
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, DC. He is in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran, Counter terrorism, IRGC, MOIS and Ethnic conflicts in MENA. \He graduated in International Security Studies (London M. University, UK), and in International Relations (CSU-LA), and is fluent in Persian, Kurdish, Arabic and English. Follow him in this twitter account @EQFARD
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