Iranian Conservative Bloggers: From the 2013 Election to the Economy
The western media tells us that all Iranian conservatives think the same, but this is far from the reality. There is an immense diversity of opinion amongst pro-government Iranians, and these monthly reports analyse the disparity between conservative opinion blogs in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
2013 Presidential ElectionThis month, the most discussed topic amongst conservative bloggers was the presidential election slated for June of this year.
- One of the most interesting topics that arose was whether elections are ‘free’. Leading Reformist politicians Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated that this presidential election would only be competitive if it was held “freely”. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, refuted this call by claiming that all presidential elections under the Islamic Republic have been free, and stating that to emphasise ‘free elections’ in this specific case meant calling into question all previous elections.
- Following on Ayatollah Khamenei’s reaction, his supporters began to denounce ‘free elections’ as the newest language of sedition. Seyed Mehdi Mirudoodi, on the blog Nothing in a post entitled “A writing class on free elections!”, proposed a definition of ‘free elections’ from the conservatives’ point of view: “We must allow elections to happen. Afterwards, if our candidate got enough votes, then we say the election was free; if not, we announce that the election was not free!”
- Another vibrant, elections-related discussion centred around who the potential candidates might be. Although less than five months away, there are still no confirmed candidates for the upcoming election. The writer of Anti Mosaicism, in a post that has since been deleted, argued that Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, the former chairman of the Iranian parliament, is supporting the candidacy of Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the former chief of police and current mayor of Tehran.
- Perhaps in the most interesting conservative blog post this month, the blog Worry put forward an intricate analysis of the potential candidates. In the writer’s opinion, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf does not stand a chance due to “the extensive documentation of his, his wife’s, and his son’s corruption, which should soon be published". The blogger also rebuffs the chances of the current chairman of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, despite his “good reputation amongst the people”. Due to Larijani’s unclear position during the 2009 presidential election, the blogger posits that religious voters will not opt for him. According to Worry, none of the known potential candidates have a real chance to win the election and we will need to wait for a new person to enter the race.
The Iranian EconomyIncreasing prices, a high inflation rate over the past few months, and the removal of subsidies, have drastically affected Iran’s economic situation and people’s livelihoods. This was an important topic for conservative bloggers this month.
- Gholamali Rajayi, on the blog Reed Player in post entitled “Are you here to increase the price of bread?”, objected to the rate of inflation under the Ahmadinejad government: “Along with the high rate of inflation brought on by Ahmadinejad and the lessening purchasing power due to excessive price deregulation, he tells people that he is executing justice! ... According to a religious leader, Ahmadinejad should be grateful if he manages to pass these next few months without an incident.”
- On the other hand, Siavash Aghajani, on the blog The Conservative Kids in a post entitled “Two important economic duties in this situation”, asked people to work with the government by consuming less foreign products and increasing consumption of domestic products. As oil exports have decreased, this would help the government save on the usage of foreign currencies.
29 December 2012, Anniversary of Anti-Green Movement DemonstrationDecember 29th marked the 3 year anniversary of the day that Ayatollah Khamenei's and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters demonstrated against the Green Movement that had swept the country. Unlike previous years, and for unknown reasons, conservative bloggers did not react as much to this anniversary.
- The majority of posts related to this event reminisced about the 29 December 2009 demonstration and the bloggers’ support for the Islamic Republic. For instance, on the blog Habil, Meysam Ramezanali called the 29 December demonstration “the people’s purest revolutionary presence” on the streets. Furthermore, on the blog In the Era in a post entitled “We honour the 29th of December”, the writer puts forward that the “serious and clear slogans against Hashemi, Khatami, Mir Hossein and Karroubi” were the most significant aspects of that day; and goes on to mark December 29th as the day that separated current revolutionaries from previous revolutionaries.
ConclusionThe most significant discussion this month centred around the Iranian presidential elections due to take place in June 2013. Many bloggers have been speculating about who would run and who had a chance of winning. Interestingly, the conflict between Bashar Assad and the Syrian opposition was one issue that was not discussed at all amongst conservative bloggers. This lack of attention to other events could be chalked up to the approaching elections and the severe economic problems engulfing the country.
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