Surprisingly, the new Iranian president is a conservative who defeated the realist Alí Rafsandjani. Now, this victory takes place just when we are witnessing the appearance of a new political generation. How to explain these apparently conflicting developments?
Several factors illustrate this debacle. First, a simple electoral calculation. Out of 46 million voters, only 26 millions went to the polls. In this regard, the conservatives have 15% of the votes and were able to get other rebels including those who were economically disappointed in Jatami’s presidency; whereas the reformists refused to mobilize in favor of Rafsandjani. The popular classes massively backed the new president. For those who did not enjoy the economic repercussions of the dollar stability, the adjustments of the balance of payments and a number of measures that favored liberalization of the economy, those who saw the neighborhoods occupied by the upper and middle classes to be filled by extraordinary buildings, the reformist speech was empty. The conservative media well understood the Shiite lineage of the popular classes. The reformists promised democracy, the clergy talked about alms and Islamic taxes. Ahmadineyad took advantage of the conservative networks that generously funded his campaign.
Another significant event is the change of generation which represents the election of Ahmadineyad. The old ones are being vacated. It is increasingly obvious the presence of the pasdaran’s army revolutionary guards in the political circles of Iran. Over the last decade, there was a profound gap in Iran between those who benefited from oil revenues and those with economic trauma, and it is considered that the egalitarian ideals of the revolution have been betrayed. Furthermore, the popular strata reluctantly welcomed the abandonment of the predominant Shiite culture in the new ruling classes. Let us add also the abstention of the tired reformists and the outcome was the election of an Iranian neoconservative who crushed an important leader of the state apparatus.
But, paradoxically, if justice and realism prevail in both sides, it could facilitate the dialogue with the West on the nuclear issue. From now on, Iran has only one voice.

Le Monde (France)

Le paradoxe iranien”, by Farhad Khosrokhavar, Le Monde, July 1st, 2005.