By Joshua Sharf, Originally published in The Hill
The upcoming Iranian elections mean even less than you think.
That’s the bad news. The worse news is that this has little, if anything, to do with the individual candidates running for election. Rather, it is almost entirely a result of the structure of the Iranian government, and the inherent nature of the regime itself.
If you’ve been following the upcoming Iranian elections, you may know that there are two major factions in the Iranian government – dubbed the “Reformists” and the “Hardliners.”
Reformist candidates, followers of “moderate” President Rouhani, have been systematically excluded from the ballot, with only 30 of their 3,000 candidates green-lighted for the election. The others have been deemed unacceptable to the religious establishment.
The body responsible for this triage, the Guardian Council, is a religious body, above the electoral process, appointed by and kept in line by the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei himself is the leader of the Hardliner faction.
From the names, and the Western press’s eager attachment to them, one might think that these factions represent significant policy differences.
They don’t. The factions are real enough, but they merely represent different flavors of the same tyranny.
According to Reza Parchizadeh, an Iranian political theorist and activist living in exile in the United States, the Reformists and the Hardliners are names of convenience, designed to deceive the West into thinking that the factional struggle has policy implications for us.