Magazine article The American Conservative

Mideast Democrats

Magazine article The American Conservative

Mideast Democrats

Article excerpt

[IRAN]

Though the rest of the world cringes and clucks each time he mounts a podium, these are dark days for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In mid-December, he was forced to flee Iran's premier polytechnic institute when student protestors carrying "fascist president" banners cut short his speech, chanting "Death to the dictator." Even as Ahmadinejad tried to speed away, students kicked the doors of his limousine, causing the vehicles in his convoy to collide several times.

This augured a grim result for the candidates Ahmadinejad hand-picked to run in the first national referendum on his presidency. Just days later, when an unexpected 60 percent of Iranian voters cast their ballots for local councils and the Assembly of Experts-the clerical body that installs and supervises Iran's supreme religious leader-they delivered a major blow.

Ahmadinejad's candidates took only 20 percent of local council seats-the opposition now controls 13 of 15 seats on the Tehran council, a political bellwether. …

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