The presidential election was held on June 15, 2013. Here is its public face.

There were 680 candidates who applied for president. Filing is costless.

Within weeks, Iran’s Guardian Council had narrowed the choice to 8 candidates. Qualifications are published, decisions seem arbitrary, but process is not secret (unlike U.S. where two candidates are chosen out of view of voters). No internal dissension reported by presstv.ir.

Of the 8, 3 were from one party, 3 were from another, 2 were independent. It was expected (presstv is source which I watched regularly during the process) that 2/3 of each of the major political parties’ candidates would drop out in the month of campaigning between the selection and the election.

Didn’t happen. Until it did. At the last minute, 2 candidates from Rouhani’s party dropped out, but the 3 from the other major party stayed in. Then I knew the vote was fixed, since Rouhani would win a plurality and there would be a runoff.

Miracles happen. Rouhani won 50.7% of the vote in the first round, not high enough to be a ‘tell’ but just enough to avoid a runoff. Don’t know how they accomplished that precision. Turnout was 73%, high enough to indicate strong citizen interest in the election but not high enough to suggest manipulation.

Icing on cake: Rouhani is the only one of eight finalists who is a cleric. This is important because it is contrary to the talking point in U.S. that Iranians don’t like the sectarian aspects of their society and election system.

Next step: Rouhani may incorporate U.S. educated Iranians into his cabinet. This puts U.S. into increasingly awkward position in its demonization of Iran. The more moderate Iran’s leadership appears, the more like a kindergartener having a temper tantrum the U.S. looks.

Some pressure is starting to build in congress for genuine (i.e., not agree-to-my-way-before-I-will-talk-to-you) negotiations with Iran.

What is a hegemon to do without a small enemy that can be scapegoated. What hysteria will arise in Israel if U.S. stops upping the ante on sanctions.

TBD

Disclosure: I am not informed on Iranian elections. This post reflects observations I had while watching the process from the outside. Experts invited to educate.