Iran,  Trots

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Britain’s most well-read far-left website is still pumping out increasingly lame propaganda on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If it’s undemocratic at all, it’s only as undemocratic as the West insists author Andy Newman. There may be political hurdles to office in Iran, but there are equally difficult ones in Europe and North America:

Much is made of the role of the Guardian Council in vetting candidates for public office, and even vetoing legislation. For example, in the recent presidential election, James Buchan notes: “Of the four hundred and seventy-five men and women who presented themselves as candidates for President, all but four were rejected by the Council of Guardians. Those were the incumbent, Ahmadinejad; a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards corps, Mohsen Rezai; an elderly cleric and former speaker of the Majlis, Mehdi Karrubi; and a former prime minister living in retirement, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Of the challengers, only Mousavi was given much of a chance.”

But there are two things to note here; firstly that the election did represent a real choice between the established political parties in Iran, the conservatives and the reformers; and secondly that in Western democracies other but equally effective mechanisms are used to create hurdles for outsider candidates. No candidate for US president could get on the ballot in every state without substantial corporate backing.

The nature of political parties in Iran is different from the European context, but no less substantive: rather than centralised organisations, the parties comprise a constellation of interests that coalesce together. For example, the conservatives are backed by the Militant Clergy Association and the Islamic Coalition Society; while the reformers are backed by the Militant Clergy Society, the Islamic Iran Participation Party, Construction Executives, and the Workers’ House.

Can Iran really be considered a democracy in any meaningful sense? Well, there’s one way to find out – attempt to stand for election with unorthodox views and see what happens. Here’s a quick and easy quiz for Socialist Unity readers who might still be a little confused about how democracy works.

There’s an (incomplete) list of officially authorised political parties in Iran set out below, only I’ve added a joker to the pack to illustrate my contention that all the authorised parties seem to have one thing in common, and that by definition that’s a wee bit undemocratic. See if you can guess which of the five parties are allowed to stand for political office in Iran and which one most certainly isn’t.

1. Islamic Iran Participation Front

2. Islamic Labor Party

3. Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization

4. Militant Clerics Society

5. Hapless Trotskyist Dupes (Galloway majoritarian)

Made your choice?  I’m afraid, for obvious reasons, there won’t be any prizes for readers who guess the correct answer, though I’m sure Harry’s Place readers would be more than willing to club together to fund any intrepid Trot who wants to put my hypothesis to the test in Tehran.

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