Gideon Rachman, a very respected FT journalist thinks so.
According to Rachman,
“The Iranian election bears all the hallmarks of a stolen vote. The official count has Mr Ahmadi-Nejad winning even in the home town of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, his main challenger. Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is said to have won even in Azeri-speaking constituencies, despite the fact that Mr Moussavi comes from an Azeri background. The official tally gave Mr Ahmadi-Nejad 63 per cent of the vote, which is way out of line with most pre-election predictions.”
Until I read Rachman’s article, I was under the impression that the media was wrongly assuming that the protests in Tehran meant the whole of Iran was in turmoil. During the time of the Shah, that is until 1979, Tehran was a relatively modern with a decent sized middle-class. It had discotheques and bars, whilst the rest of the country was very traditional. Even after the 1979 revolution remnants of that culture have survived through secret parties and tight-fitting jeans worn under the chador. It is therefore easy to assume that the desire for reform and change is restricted to Tehran.
There is a very good chance that Rachman is right. However, it must not be forgotten that (as mentioned in one of my earlier posts) the Azeris are a very well integrated minority and it may not be correct to say that the Moussavi is bound to get a majority in areas with an Azeri majority, just because he is Azeri. Ahmadi-Nejad has always been the rabble-rousing crowd-puller, ever willing to financially bankrupt his country with his populist policies.
Before I end, let me confess that I am no Iran expert and all my statements above are mere conjectures.