Freedom of Choice?

Blogger Neil Clark has a pop at Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein for saying he’d happily give a million Dollars away to promote democracy in Iran.

Clark says it’s a case of sour grapes – Iran validly and soundly rejected the sort of politics Finkelstein is in favour of at the last Iranian poll.

Iran is a democracy, but the only trouble is that the people didn’t vote the way Daniel would have liked them to.

Well Iran did vote for an Islamist government at the last election in 2005, that much is true, but they didn’t exactly have much choice. There are certain preconditions for putting yourself forward for election in the Islamic Republic:

If you’re male, Muslim and over 25 you’re on the right track but make sure you’re not too critical of the status quo:

All hopefuls for high elected office must be cleared by the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of clerics and scholars loyal to the ruling theocracy. The council often rejects potential candidates considered too liberal or critical of the Islamic system. For Friday’s election, just eight of more than 1,000 possible candidates were allowed.

Here’s a list of the major parties allowed to stand in Iran:

Executives of Construction Party (Islamist)
Islamic Iran Participation Front (Islamist)
Islamic Society of Engineers (Islamist)
Militant Clergy Association (Islamist)
Militant Clerics Society (Islamist)

Eight out of one thousand candidates allowed to stand and all that remain after the undesirables are winnowed out are Islamist.

Who but a useful idiot would call that democracy?

Update: A Scottish schoolteacher also takes issue with Clark’s slippery semantics.