THE LEGACY OF 2009 AND “FOUR WASTED YEARS”
Let it be said that this election was pay-back by many Iranians — pay-back to officials all the way to the Supreme Leader — for the manipulation of the 2009 vote and the subsequent crackdown to enforce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President.
Of course, the word “sedition” was not uttered. However, the chants in Rouhani’s crowds of “Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!” were a powerful reminder: two of the candidates in 2009, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are still considered such a threat by the regime that they have been under strict house arrest for 28 months. It is not just Mousavi and Karroubi who are detained. Hundreds of activists, journalists, students, lawyers, Baha’is, and people simply caught up in the repression are also imprisoned.
Had the regime used the last four years to bring the “political and teconomic epic” that the Supreme Leader promised when he anointed Ahmadinejad in 2009, then it might have eased the pain and trauma of that collective memory. But it did not do so: Iran is in a far worse economic position since 2009, and its international standing — despite Orwellian proclamations from its supporters — has eroded, and any hope of progress had faded into resignation.
Against this background, the Rouhani campaign reignited the possibility of striking a meaningful blow against the status quo — not with violent protests this time, but with a vote that meant something.