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Voting in Iran – part 2

May 21, 2013

So, to vote or not to vote? There’s a quaint hypothesis that low turnouts mean no mandate. There are no (zero) examples of a leadership being bothered or limited by this. Sadly, there are plenty of examples of post-election attacks on those perceived to have voted disloyally. Ideally, what even a despot for life (or until the next coup) ought to do
is at least analyze the raw votes. It is an inexpensive and reasonably accurate way to see where economic policies are falling short. A voter boycott in Venezuela, for example, resulted in a Chavist legislature so that even in Capriles had been allowed to serve as President it is not obvious if he could have done anything meaningful. Even with a cooperative legislature and a fair judiciary it is very unclear whether Capriles could turn around Venezuela. The economic and social damage is so profound and widespread that most scenarios only differ slightly in how quickly the country collapses. A great pity as Venezuela should be a paradise.
The same question can be asked by a voter in Iran – does it matter who is President? It is of little or no interest who holds what cabinet post if the roads are not getting fixed, inflation is double digits and there are food shortages. In practice, the President of Iran is not really the Commander in Chief of any forces, nor does he actually set policy. What any Iranian leaders should do is take advantage of there being one hundred million cell phones by polling frequently so that problems that matter to citizens (and that can be solved) get solved. After all, if a religiously inspired country has substantial numbers of citizens who cannot pray properly because of poor health, poor education or poor infrastructure that’s hardly a success.

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