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Study: Iran Vote Suspect

June 27, 2009 by  


AFP

A new analysis of voting figures in Iran’s disputed presidential election published Sunday found “irregularities” in the turnout and “highly implausible” swings to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Independent British think tank Chatham House found that in two conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, the turnout was more than 100 percent a trend that it said was “problematic,” although admittedly not unprecedented in Iran.

The analysis of Interior Ministry figures also found that overall, there was a 50.9 percent swing to Mr. Ahmadinejad, with official results suggesting that he won the support of 47.5 percent of those who had backed reformist candidates in the2005 election.

“This, more than any other result, is highly implausible and has been the subject of much debate in Iran,” the study said.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was re-elected in the June 12election, but his main challenger, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, complained of irregularities, and thousands of his supporters have taken to the streets demanding a recount.

The analysis edited by professor Ali Ansari, director of the Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews challenges the suggestion that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s victory was due to the massive participation of a previously silent conservative majority.

It says his support in the countryside has been overstated, and the scale of his win in many areas would have required a massive and “highly unlikely” defection by voters who backed reformists in 2005.

The president received about 13 million more votes in this year’s election than the combined conservative vote in 2005, according to official data.

In 10 of the 30 provinces, Mr. Ahmadinejad would have had to win over all new voters, all former centrist voters and up to 44 percent of former reformist voters to reach the totals recorded by the Iranian authorities, the analysis said.

In many of these provinces, reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi did well in 2005, but the official results suggest that this year, his supporters did not back the main reformist challenger, Mr. Mousavi, but hard-line conservative Mr. Ahmadinejad instead.

“To many reformists, this situation is extremely unlikely,” the report said, noting that Mr. Karroubi is “of polar opposite views to Ahmadinejad on issues of political and cultural freedoms, economic management and foreign policy.”

Likewise, the analysis noted that Mr. Karroubi commanded strong support in rural areas in 2005 over Mr. Ahmadinejad; yet this year’s figures show strong support in the countryside for the incumbent.

Mr. Karroubi’s vote appeared to have collapsed entirely this year, even in his home province of Lorestan, where his share of the vote went from 55.5 percent in 2005 to just 4.6 percent in 2009.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters explain the trend by claiming that Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Ahmadinejad have a similar appeal as “men of the people [Note] which explains the trend [/NOTE] ,” Chatham House noted.

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