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Democracy on a Leash: Iranians Head to the Polls 

Eurasia Group
18 May 2017
and The Supreme Leader holds ultimate authority in Iran, so does it matter who wins Friday’s presidential election? Yes and no.
Iranians will have their say...up to a point

In Iran, even a “yes or no” question can yield a complicated answer.

The supreme leader holds ultimate authority in Iran, so does it matter who wins Friday's presidential election? Yes and no. Iran's president has little sway over the country's foreign policy, but plenty to say about economic policy and thus reintegration with the global economy. 

Is Iran a democracy? Yes and no. More than 1,600 people asked permission to run for president this year. The Guardian Council, 12 conservative jurists and clerics, approved just six of them. On the other hand, there are real choices among those six, and the Council can't be sure how voters will vote.

Isn't Iran prone to election unrest? Yes and no. In 2009, a victory for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked accusations of fraud and voter protests that destabilized the political system. The government put them down with brutal force. In 2013, Hassan Rouhani won a landslide first-round victory, avoiding a runoff. He's still pretty popular as he seeks re-election.

Does this election matter for Iran's nuclear deal with the US and others? Yes and no. Victory for a conservative wouldn't kill the deal, because only the Supreme Leader makes that call. And if he didn't like it, the deal wouldn't exist. But if this election empowers the conservatives, the nuclear deal will be on a more slippery slope.

Friday will be an interesting day.

Stay tuned.

Written and narrated by Willis Sparks
Produced by Alex Gibson 
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Willis Sparks is a thought leader on risks, opportunities, and trends created by current geopolitical conflicts and political developments in major emerging market countries, as well as on US politics and foreign policy.
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