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Gossiping The Elections, The Policians & The Electorates

Elections in Iran – Reforms Ahead ?

Elections in Iran were held in February 2016. Does it spell reforms ahead for Iran politics? The Iranian voters seemed to vote for change, but is that actually the case? Let us examine the Iranian election results. The political system of Iran. The possible changes. First. The political system in Iran is quite different from most Western democracies. On the national stage Iran elects a head of the Iranian state and head of government (the president), a legislative assembly called the Majlis, and a so called Assembly of Experts (mujtahids) which is tasked with electing the Supreme Leader.
The Iranians held a parliamentary election.

Political System in Iran

On february 26th 2016 Iran held elections for the legislature and the assembly of experts. The elections for both chambers of government were muddy to say the very least. The assembly of experts are elected as individuals with endorsements from different factions of political life in Iran. Several candidates had endorsements from both the reformist and traditionalist side, making the actual tally of mujtahids almost impossible to do until it is seen in practice.

Further it is worth noting that there are rules for running as a candidate for all offices in Iran making it hard to determine the outcome further. First of all, there is a right to veto the running of candidates. The veto is held by a council of guardians consisting of 6 theological or religious leaders appointed directly by the supreme leader of Iran. Thus, the traditionalists have a sort of handbrake function on any reform movements as they can simply veto the running of any candidates they consider dangerous.

It is also worth noting that only practitioners of Islam can run (with some exceptions for those running as minority religion representatives). You need to hold a masters degree and be 30 years old. But further you can not be a supporter of the Shah, who ruled Iran till 1979. Furthermore you can not have a poor reputation, which largely equates the “unworthy” clause in Western democracies that parliaments can deem people based on criminal convictions in the past.

Iranian Election Results 2016

As noted above it is simply impossible to judge the elections for the experts assembly given the individual candidates running based on varying endorsements from various camps in Iranian politics. The results below show who won based on who endorsed them:

Support (Seats)   Percentage
Reformist/Principalist support (35)
Principalists support only (27)
Reformists support only (20)
Independents (6)
Distribution of seats by political camp support

At the face of it there is a small majority of principalist / traditionalist supported candidates, but several of those had reformist support as well. Thus muddying the picture, but no great wave of reforms can be expected from the assembly of experts in Iran.

For the legislative chamber of Iran the picture is slightly more telling. Basically the parliament is hung with no major party commanding a majority. However, a clear movement can be noted towards the reformist movement with the Pervasive Coalition of Reformists in Iran becoming the biggest party in the Majlis. The second party is the coalition of traditionalists called the Principalists Coalition. However, to form a majority support from the sizable group of independents is necessary for any party.

A direct comparison to previous elections is not possible as the coalitions consist of an ever changing make up of smaller parties in varying lineups. But the trend is clear. More reformist candidates have been elected in Iran. Particularly in the capital Teheran it seems that the reformists have momentum with very strong election results at the 2016 polls.

کرسی‌های مجلس دهم بر پایهٔ گرایش سیاسی.png
Alliance MPs
Logo Name Of total
Pervasive Coalition of Reformists 83 28.62%

83 / 290

Principlists Coalition logo.png
Principalists Coalition 64 22.06%

64 / 290

People's Voice 2016 logo.png
People’s Voice Coalition 10 3.44%

10 / 290

55 18.96%

55 / 290

Religious Minority
5 1.72%

5 / 290

2016 Iranian election poster - Elections in Iran

Elections in Iran 2016

Political Parties in Iran

Iran has 3 major parties running for seats. The parties are not divided by the usual ideological lines seen in Western democracies. Rather, they are ranked by their attitude towards reforms, religion and traditionalism.

Pervasive Coalition of Reformists
The big winner of the election were the reformists of the Pervasive Coalition. The reformist movement of Iran running under the Pervasive Coalition banner supports more freedom and democracy. The current Iranian political system is rather limited in terms of who can run, how they can campaign and what positions they are allowed to take. The pervasive reformists desire to open up the system to a more open and western styled democracy.

Mohammad Reza Aref - Pervasive Coalition Iran

Mohammad Reza Aref – Pervasive Coalition Iran

Principlists Coalition
The principalist coalition running for elections in Iran is a combined list of several traditionalist and islamist parties Combatant Clergy Association and Islamic Coalition Party, the ‘Transformationalist’Society of Devotees and Pathseekers of the Islamic Revolution and the radical Front of Islamic Revolution Stability.

The traditionalist parties and coalitions have generally been dominant in Iranian elections and within the political system.

2016 Iranian election poster - Principalist Coalition Iran

By Hossein Zohrevand

People’s Voice Coalition
The peoples voice coalition is somewhere in between the two dominant parties on the reformist vs traditionalist scale in Iranian politics. They started out as a protest party for the 2012 elections but have placed themselves in the middle. They could be the swing party in hung parliament situations and are thought to lean slightly to the conservative traditionalist side.

2016 Iranian election poster

2016 Iranian election poster

Elections in Iran – Reforms Ahead ?

International media have hailed the results of the elections in Iran as a sign of a more reformist line ahead. A more western-friendly style of government. More freedom and democracy. But is that actually the case?

Basically, it is more than hard to say for sure. First of all the reformist candidates are vetted by traditionalists with a veto before even running. Secondly, the powerful unelected guardian council and assembly of experts are both seemingly held firmly by traditionalists.

It is clear though that a signal was sent by Iranian voters. They voted heavily for candidates touting reformist credentials. More reformists were elected, more women were elected in Iran and especially in Teheran the signs were clear that new winds are blowing over the political system in Iran.

It would be very premature to expect actual change of the system in Iran though. There are simply too many barriers. Too much control with the system from above. Too little real wriggle room for reforms. It is likely that some reforms will be made. Pleasing voters is always wise afterall. But is it gonna be substantive? Likely not!

Elections in Iran were did spell change. But mostly as a signal. Voters in Iran said yes to reform. A bit in rural areas. Massively so in Teheran. But the system itself is conservative. Change is possible. But by tiny steps. However, conservatives themselves might initiate some reforms to accommodate the voice of the voters.

Elections in Iran 2016 - Female Voters

Elections in Iran 2016 – Female Voters – By Hamed Malekpour



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State Of The Republican Race

First they were 17. Now they are 4. The state of the republican race is more exciting and unpredictable than ever despite the winnowing of the field. Ben Carson being the latest candidate to drop out, but the battle between Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich is more intense than ever.

First of. The republican debate on Fox News was a bizarre phenomenon. Jokes about endowment. Yelling insults. Name calling. And John Kasich attempting to make political points. Basically Rubio and Cruz came armed to the teeth with attacks on Trump. Kasich came with his policies and refused to join in the mudslinging. It might all make sense in the way that this was one of the last occasions to put a stop to Donald Trumps march towards the nomination. If Trump beats Marco Rubio in Florida, John Kasich in Ohio and Ted Cruz in the upcoming southern states – its game over for the anti-trump movement.

Mitt Romney – Revenge of the Establishment

Mitt Romney chose to break all normal rules of the primary game by doing a speech slacking off Donald Trump. It is literally unheard of. The previous nominee trashing the frontrunner to be the next one. The Mitt Romney speech was a point by point indictment of Donald Trumps business history, his personality and temperament, his political positions and everything else about him.

The weirdness of it all is that Romney was chosen to do it. That he was chosen to do it at this point. And that it was deemed wise at all. First. With the speech barely over all the networks were playing Mitt Romney videos praising Donald Trump as a business genius from the 2012 election when Trump endorsed him. Couldnt the establishment have found another representative to do it? I guess George W. Bush said no at least. Second. Why do it now? It could have tilted the scales earlier on. Say before New Hampshire. Right now the effect seems dubious. And third, on the same point. Is it at all wise to tell 35% of your voter base that the guy they love is a fraudulent lunatic? Is it wise to tell voters wanting a non-establishment candidate as theyre tired of getting shafted by backroom Washington deals that you will do your best to ignore their vote and steal the nomination in a brokered convention? I think not.

John McCain and Mitt Romney  - Republican Establisment

A Brokered Republican Convention ?

Mitt Romney put words to the brokered convention idea and tactical voting. Basically. Instead of getting anyone to drop out. Help them win where they can. Then have them team up their delegates against Donald Trump at the convention if he hasnt reached an outright majority of 1237.

The suggestion was made outright. Vote John Kasich in Ohio. Vote Marco Rubio in Florida. Vote Ted Cruz where ever he is closest to beating Trump.

Is that wise or realistic ? Fact is it might be the only thing with any chance of working. From now till March 15 it is fully possible that Donald Trump settles the nomination to a degree where nothing but keeping him under 50% of the delegates. But it is far from a certain or safe thing to attempt. First of all it might not work at all. Marco Rubio is far from certain of winning Florida, Ohio isnt safely in John Kasich´ hands and several of the Southern states might well go Trump rather than Cruz. And even if the other candidates do hold out in these primaries there is a strong possibility of Trump winning anyway by sweeping most of the other states.

What is worse. If Donald Trump turns up at the convention with say 1100 delegates, everyone else being far behind, the Trump lead in the popular vote being massive … and the establishment then trying to figure a way of uniting everyone but Trump to hand the nomination to one of the other candidates – or even Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney or a similar candidate. It will be civil war. Nothing less.

The media narrative will focus on the illegitimate theft of the frontrunners nomination. The 30-40% of republican voters having supported Donald Trump will potentially not be recoverable for the general election. Trump himself might still run as third party, thus destroying the chances of any republican. Even if he doesnt he is unlikely to go home quietly, nicely or without a fierce fight.

Beyond that. Is it even possible to unite all other delegates against Trump? After the first round, wouldnt some of them go for Trump? Wouldnt especially Ted Cruz delegates be in a weird position with their candidate being unwanted by the establishment too – and prone to switching to Trump? Wouldnt a more politically savvy Donald Trump than we give him credit for actually hold most of the cards. Say, Donald Trump strikes a VP, secretary of state or supreme court deal with one or more the candidates. Or even simply with someone who could sway delegates from some of the other candidates in a second round of voting.

Donald Trump caricature - state of the republican race

Donald Trump caricature By DonkeyHotey

The State of The Republican Race

The state of the republican race ? It is chaos. By this time the state of the democratic race is largely settled. The republican race has descended into vulgarity, personal attacks and preparations for a civil war in the party. The upside for the republicans is that if they somehow settles it amicably in the end, they will have had plenty of airtime for their candidate.

Any winning nominee will have been vetted thoroughly. Being under intense scrutiny in a filthy battle for the nomination can hurt a candidate. But it can also let the air out of the balloon on bad track records. Which is the case here depends very much on who ends up chosen and how that comes about.

Would it be better if everyone united against Trump ? Well. If Rubio and Kasich dropped out and lined up behind Cruz he might indeed win a bit more delegates. But it is just as likely that anyone dropping out would bring Donald Trump closer to 50%. So far. The wisdom that those in the same lane benefit the most simply hasnt been true. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and others leaving did not elevate Marco Rubio much. It cant be ruled out that someone like Marco Rubio has a broad enough appeal that Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out would make him competitive. But first of all Ted Cruz has shown no sign of dropping out after his wins. Second, Rubio is already 200 delegates behind and polling poorly in his homestate of Florida.

It is all a catch 22 for republicans not wanting Donald Trump.

German Caricature of Donald Trump

German Caricature of Donald Trump

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State Of The Democratic Race

Post Super Tuesday analysis by Electomatic gives you the current state of the democratic race after an exciting night of voting.

Super Tuesday came an went. Hillary Clinton grabbed 7 wins whilst her competitor Bernie Sanders ran away with 4 victories. That may sound close. But essentially the race is over. Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead in delegates – with or without democratic superdelegates – and basically cant be caught unless a political earthquake happens.

Bernie Sanders did in fact do fairly well on Super Tuesday. He won a resounding home win in Vermont and grabbed wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma too. That is actually better than expected based on polls. But still falls way short of being on track to win. For starters he lost in Massachuchetts, a state he should have won big. The State Of The Democratic Race is basically settled on Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton won the south. With little competition. She grabbed 7 victories total. Most of them much bigger wins in terms of %s and delegates than Bernie Sanders managed. In reality she has won.

State Of The Democratic Race

Hillary Clinton has won in all but mathematical theory. She is further ahead than Barack Obama ever was in 2008 – against her. And the calendar ahead shows no obvious opportunities for Bernie Sanders to catch up. Bernie will likely keep pulling a win here and there, but given the proportional awarding of democratic delegates he would need blowouts in several state to make up ground. It will not happen.

So – should Hillary Clinton call for Bernie Sanders to withdraw from the race?

Definitely not! It is very much in Hillary Clintons interest to keep Bernie Sanders in the race. If he drops out she will have nobody to debate, no reason for the media to follow the democratic primaries, no news cycles of the candidates debating. To keep in the spotlight, keep the excitement alive and keep sharpening the arguments it is essential to keep Bernie Sanders competing.

And Bernie Sanders is in fact the perfect competitor in many ways. He is old and idealistic but never attacks her personally or with any level of political venom. He debates the issues. Rallies his troops and keeps the democratic side rolling. On top he has plenty of his own funds that he uses on democratic advertising on the issues – no negative ads or personal attacks on Hillary Clinton. It really could not be better for Hillary Clinton and if it starts looking like he might drop out, she really should sit down with Bernie Sanders and convince him to keep running – until endorsing her in May or June.

From now on it is all about the general election for Hillary Clinton. She needs to work on the youth vote that she has lost to Sanders. She needs to work on low income and low education voters that might be tempted by Donald Trump. She needs to work on improving her approval rating which isnt that much better than Donald Trumps. There is plenty to do. But it is all about the november general election.

Hillary Clinton - Democratic Campaign 2016

Hillary Clinton By Gage Skidmore

Super Tuesday 2016 – Democratic Results

Alabama Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 
Bernie Sanders 19.2%

Arkansas Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 66
Bernie Sanders 29.7% 

Colorado Democratic Caucus
Bernie Sanders 58.9%
Hillary Clinton 

Georgia Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 71.3
Bernie Sanders 28.2

Massachusetts Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 50.1
Bernie Sanders 48.7

Minnesota Democratic Caucus
Bernie Sanders 61.6
Hillary Clinton 38.4

Oklahoma Democratic Primary
Bernie Sanders 51.9
Hillary Clinton 41.5

Tennessee Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 66.1
Bernie Sanders 32.4

Texas Democratic Primary
Hillary Clinton 65.2
Bernie Sanders 33.2

Oklahoma Democratic Primary
Bernie Sanders 86.1
Hillary Clinton 13.6

Bernie Sanders Supporters in Iowa 2016

Bernie Sanders Supporters in Iowa 2016 By Max Goldberg


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