MEK Iran: Boycotting the Election
The Iranian regime is holding its presidential election in June, and people across the country have vowed to boycott the polls. Last year, the MEK organized a successful boycott of the Majlis (parliamentary) elections, leading to the lowest voter turnout in the regime’s history.
Mass boycott on the way
Demonstrations this spring have called for a repeat of those boycotts, and regime officials worry that low turnout will further weaken the legitimacy of the government.
Even state media have acknowledged concerns of a mass boycott. On April 17, the state-run Mostaghel daily wrote, “The presidential elections have the unprecedented situation in terms of people’s unwillingness to participate.”
Voter participation in Iran has historically been high. The recent boycotts signal a nationwide resentment toward a regime that has alienated its own people through decades of corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence. After 42 years of going to the polls and hoping for change, Iranians have decided that the regime is past reform.
Widespread poverty and a failing economy
Economic unrest has powered much of the anti-regime sentiment over the past few years. Iran has suffered from economic mismanagement since the Shah was in power, and the Islamic regime has only worsened the situation.
On April 6, former Minister of Urban Development Abbas Akhundi explained the severity of hyperinflation in Iran. “When the country’s average inflation for 52 years is a little more than 18%, it means that its 52-year inflation rate is 546845%,” he said.
“When the growth of the country’s national investment for nine years is negative 6.8 percent, it means that this year’s investment has decreased to fifty-two percent compared to ten years ago,” he continued, according to the state-run Eghtesad news website.
the inflation rate will be higher than 40%
“The next year’s inflation rate will be higher than 40% of the [previous year]. This means absolute poverty,” Akhundi added.
Hyperinflation has led to the collapse of the Iranian rial and a dramatic loss in purchasing power for Iranians. The price of basic goods has skyrocketed, plunging many below the line of poverty or even into absolute poverty, the point at which basic needs cannot be met.
No solution to economic crisis under the current regime
Iranians have attempted to solve these economic problems for four decades by electing new leaders, but the crisis continued to build. The MEK has continually stated that Iran’s problems lie with the regime itself.
Regime economist Hossain Raghfar described how the regime’s policies are responsible for its failing economy in an October 15, 2020 interview with the state-run Resalat daily. “The problem of the country’s economy is not the U.S. or sanctions. The main economic problems are lies, deception, and blaming others for diverting the public mind from the bitter realities that domestic politics has brought upon the people,” he said.
“The United States has consistently been cited as the main cause of the country’s problems, while these problems are due to domestic performance. Imports of items such as saddles and toothpicks rose from $16 billion in 2005 to $90 billion in 2011, making the country more dependent and consumerist,” Raghfar added.
Black-market trade by IRGC
The regime also diverts large sums of money to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) for black-market trade. Abbas Akhundi described this “transnational corruption network” in a February 8 interview with the semi-official ISNA.
According to Akhundi, the network, which has a $20-25 billion annual trade value, was formed over the last 15 years and distributed over $100 billion among military institutions. “Iran’s economy is grappling with deep and institutionalized corruption,” he added.
Wealth is controlled by Khameini and the IRGC
For those seeking to escape poverty in Iran, there are few options. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei controls much of the country’s wealth and, under Article 49 of the Iranian Constitution, has the authority to confiscate all wealth the state believes to have been obtained through illegitimate means. As supreme leader, he has absolute authority to decide what constitutes illegitimate means and to allow other regime authorities to do the same.
In 2005, the regime began to use this authority to shift property ownership from individuals to a small group of individuals from the office of the supreme leader as well as members of the IRGC. Currently, 40% of Iran’s property is held by the IRGC. Ordinary citizens are part of an underclass.
Iranians have rightfully decided not to vote in June’s election because they realize their voices have not been heard. The regime counts on high voter turnout to legitimize its rule, and a boycott is perhaps the strongest way to vote “no” to the government as a whole.