Why Iran’s presidential election is a sham

One of the country’s leading human-rights activists says she is boycotting this month’s vote.

In two weeks, when Iran is scheduled to hold its presidential election, Narges Mohammadi will be staying home. One of her country’s most courageous human-rights activists, she views the upcoming vote as a sham.

“The principle of absolute jurisprudence has invalidated all the principles of the Iranian constitution and reduced the power of other institutions to zero,” she told me in an WhatsApp interview from Iran. The country’s unelected supreme leader and the country’s Guardian Council, which vets presidential candidates and can overturn laws passed by Iran’s legislature, have consolidated power.

As if to prove her point, the Guardian Council last month disqualified all but seven candidates from running for president. That decision has drawn rebukes even from Iranian leaders who are supportive of the ruling regime.

But Mohammadi’s criticism is deeper. As a journalist in the late 1990s, she supported the reformer president, Mohammed Khatami. Now, she has concluded that elections offer no chance for Iran to make the transition to a true democracy.

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