Khamenei’s failed attempt to legitimize the boycotted election

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, June 29, 2021—While the nationwide boycott of the Iranian regime’s sham presidential election has become a recognized fact—including by the regime’s own analysts and experts—some regime leaders and officials are trying to put a positive light on the disastrous low turnout to save face.

On Monday, ten days after the June 18 election, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei held a meeting with judiciary officials, in which he tried—and unsurprisingly failed—to twist the truth in his own favor.

“The election was honestly epic, this past election was literally an epic by the people,” Khamenei said in his remarks.

According to the regime’s engineered stats, the voter turnout was 50 percent, which is already low in comparison to the fake reports that the regime’s own institutions published about previous elections. Khamenei tried to steer away from this fact by saying, “At least 10 percent of those who didn’t participate were due to the coronavirus situation, and if we take that into consideration, the turnout would be 60 percent, which is a good figure.”

The reality, however, as was documented and filmed by the MEK network inside Iran, indicates that the turnout was less than 10 percent. The election was preceded by a nationwide campaign to boycott the election. People openly posted videos online and called for the boycott of the sham elections and the overthrow of the regime.

From farmers to teachers, students, workers, and pensioners, different communities that held protest rallies during the runup to the elections had one slogan in common, “We will not vote.” And this was before the regime even declared the qualified candidates for the election.

In the final weeks before the election, families of protesters and dissidents killed and executed by the regime posted videos on social media in which they explicitly said, “My vote is regime change.”

Moreover, according to the regime’s own interior ministry, a considerable amount of the ballots cast during the election were invalid. This means that many those who—for any reason—went to the polling stations did not believe in any of the presidential candidates.

Even Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s outgoing president, acknowledge that the voter turnout was low. In his June 24 cabinet meeting, Rouhani did not mince words in confirming that the people widely boycotted the regime’s elections and expressed concern at the low voter turnout and the effect it can have on the regime. Rouhani further said that what makes the situation more concerning is that the extremely low turnout happened despite requests by Khamenei for the people to vote.

Now Khamenei, who has been embarrassingly shunned by the people, is trying to save face by reversing the truth and claiming that at least 50 percent of the eligible voters cast their vote.

The contradictions between Khamenei and Rouhani’s remarks clearly display the regime’s unsolvable dilemma. On the one hand, the regime is faced with an increasingly restive society that no longer tolerates the rule of the mullahs. This anger and frustration at the outdated religious tyranny ruling Iran has manifested itself in numerous rounds of nationwide protests in which the people called for the overthrow of the regime. And it has more recently manifested itself in the unprecedented boycott of the elections. The people of Iran have unequivocally voiced their opinion in their slogan that none of the factions in the regime, the so-called “reformists” and “hardliners,” can solve the country’s and the people’s problems. What the people want is fundamental change.

So, the regime is in dire need of a solution to dampen public anger. The election masquerades are feeble attempts to create a façade of democracy and legitimize the despotic rule of the mullahs.

But on the other hand, the regime is incapable of bringing the changes that would satisfy the people. Corruption, repression, terrorism, and religious fascism are so ingrained in the fabric of the regime. Backing down on any of them will cause the regime to implode and open the way for the people and their resistance movement to overthrow the regime. This is why the regime’s only solution to the growing popular resent and anger is to double down on repression. The regime manipulated the elections to make Ebrahim Raisi the winner. Raisi, a notorious figure known for his role in executing dissidents, is the perfect figure to do Khamenei’s bid in cracking down on protests. But he is not exactly the person you would want at the helm of the government when the country is facing social and economic crises. Even the regime’s own officials ridicule Raisi for not even having a high school diploma.

These realities also manifest themselves in expanding protest movements in the first week after the election. There’s no doubt that down the road, there will be another great—and perhaps final—standoff between the people and the regime.

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