MEK Iran: Regime’s Presidential Election Last Chance for Khamenei to Maintain Claim to Power
The Iranian regime will hold its presidential election on June 18, and the future of the regime may depend on its outcome. The ruling government has been rocked by domestic and foreign crises that have left it isolated from the international community, economically unstable, and roiled with social unrest. The regime is currently at risk of being overthrown by its own people and needs to gain some semblance of legitimacy in order to maintain its hold on power. On March 21, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei confirmed this point when he said that the election is “very important both domestically and internationally.”
In December 2017, the people of Iran rose up and demanded regime change. Since then, there have been three more major anti-regime uprisings in Iran. MEK Resistance Units have grown in size and influence and have played a major role in organizing the daily protests and demonstrations in cities and towns across Iran.
Regime officials and state-run media have been forced to acknowledge the influence of the MEK in organizing protests and have publicly worried that widespread social unrest could lead to the mullahs’ downfall. In August 2020, the state-run Asre Iran daily described the ongoing unrest as a “nitrate of dissent” that could explode at any moment.
As the election nears, regime leaders have begun to express concerns about the possibility of an election boycott. The MEK organized a successful boycott of the Majlis (parliamentary) elections in February 2020, which led to the lowest voter turnout in the regime’s history.
The low numbers dealt a humiliating blow to Khamenei and his faction, who wanted to boost the regime’s credibility with high voter participation.
Instead, Iranians chose to follow the words of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, who said that the people of Iran voted when they took to the streets and chanted, “Down with Khamenei! Down with Rouhani!” The regime’s choices are no choices at all.
A growing number of Iranians have said that they will not vote in this year’s election, leading many regime leaders to fear another boycott. During his remarks on March 21, Khamenei tried to persuade voters not to boycott the election.
He said, “The enemy is saying that the elections have been ‘engineered,’ ‘Your votes are of no consequence in improving the circumstances,’ and ‘why would you tire yourselves participating in the elections?’”
“But the nation should look at elections as a symbol of national unity, not as a symbol of division, discord, and polarity.
‘Young and Hezbollahi’ government
As Supreme Leader, Khamenei and his Guardian Council ultimately decide who is allowed to run for political office. In the past, “Reformers” were allowed to exist as a way to mollify those who wanted a less authoritarian style of leadership. However, even the most moderate of reformers still executed thousands of citizens, sanctioned terrorist plots against MEK members and other dissidents, and suppressed freedoms. No true moderate can exist in a regime where final ballot approval rests with a council of fundamentalist clerics headed by a dictator.
Khamenei’s recent remarks seem to indicate that he is no longer interested in bothering to put Reformers on the ballot. In his Nowruz speech, Khamenei said that the June election need not be “multi-factional.”
“They should abandon wrong divisions such as left and right and the like,” he said.
Khamenei described his ideal president as one who shares his own values. “He should have a revolutionary and jihadi performance,” he said. “One cannot work in a pretentious and ceremonial manner. With all the fundamental issues that exist in the country, there is a need for a jihadi and revolutionary performance.”
Khamenei previously said, “I have always said that I believe and hope to have a ‘young and Hezbollahi’ government, meaning an effective and high-spirited government that can resolve our problems.
“When I refer to a young and Hezbollahi government, I’m not saying that, for example, a 32-year-old should become president. We need a young and active government that can resolve the country’s problems.
There are those who work well into their old days and never get tired. For example, our dear martyr Qassem Soleimani whom I think about every day…,” he added, referring to the Quds Force commander who was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike.
Of the seven candidates currently running for President, three are IRGC members.
Tags: Iran election, Iran Opposition, Iran Protests, Iran Uprising, IRGC, Maryam Rajavi, MEK, Mujahedin-e Khalq, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), People's Mojahedin organization of Iran, PMOI