Iranian Presidential Election Anomalies, 2005-2009

 Iran's 2005 and 2009 Presidential Election:  Curious Results

Michael Collins

Linked to "Give Me Liberty..."  Iranian People Demand Democracy June 23, 2009  &
Iranian Election Fraud 2009: Who Was the Real Target... and Why?  June 15, 2009

(also see Chatham House's detailed analysis of election fraud in Iran)

This analysis began on after the publication of the June 15th article and was
appended to the "Give Me
Liberty..." article on June 22.  It is ongoing.

Iran's presidential elections have had anywhere from three to ten candidates from 1989 forward.  These candidates must be assessed and approved to run by the Guardian Council.  Candidates for the Majlis (Iran's unicameral legislature) go through the same process.  There is a general election for president with all of the approved candidates.  if there's no majority winner, a runoff is held between the top two candidates.  The runoff occurs within days of the first election.  From 1989 forward, the 2005 presidential race was the only time that a runoff was necessary. 

The following chart shows Reformist versus Conservative vote totals since 1989.  The leading candidates and allied parties are grouped under one of those headings.  2005 data is presented for both the initial and run off elections below due the switch from Reformist to Conservative dominance.  This raises questions considered in the second section of this ongoing analysis.

Election Data: Wikipedia  1989   1993  1997   2001   2,005   2,009  &  IranTracker Data

*Note the flat totals for "Eligible Voters" from 2005 to 2009.  This is a phenomena that needs to explained.

There has been a clear record of Reformist victories since 1989.   1997 and 2001 provides the best view of relative Reformist strength.  Ayatollah Khatami had a clear platform that gave the people a choice between a more open society and the isolation of the Conservatives.

But the two time winner Khatami couldn't run again.  This left the Reformist movement without leadership.  Also, in 2004 the Guardian Council decimated Reformist legislative candidates. This was accomplished under the  radical right wing religious faction doing the bidding of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.  Eliminating Reformist in this obvious fashion is called "silent coup"  of 2004  

 In 2005, Rafsanjani stepped in to fill the void for the Reformists.  While he lacked the appeal of the politically skilled Khatami, Rafsanjani is a major figure from the Islamic Revolution and had a personal fortune at his disposal. 

From 1989 through 2001, there were four match ups of conservative versus reformist elements.  The reformists won each of those with growing margins and significant increases in voter turnout.  Khatami, a true reformer, was the most effective vote getter in the history of the Islamic Republic.  His margins are the basis for claiming that Iran is dominated  by reformists. The 2005 election even showed strength for reformists.  Many boycotted that election but their numbers were significant. 

How do you get from the history of Iranian elections to a 2009 conservative win for president?  You don't unless you disappear the dreadful economic situation, the international isolation, and the anger of the under 30 segment of the population.  It's not conceivable that voters ignored the disastrous management of the economy and regional and international isolation.

  Anomalies in Iran's 2005 Presidential Election: Curious Results

Simply looking at the final results for 2005 leads me to see this as the exception in the Reformist majorities.  The first election on June 17, 2005 showed a 16.6 million to 11.5 million Reformist win. Ahmadinejad won the June 24, 2005 runoff election over Rafsanjani by 17.3 million to 10.0 million votes.   In the course of seven days, Reformists went from a 2 to 1 advantage to a 2 to 1 disadvantage.

2004 saw the move against Reformist candidates for the Majlis, the legislative body, and the 2005 presidential election saw a sudden switch from a two to one advantage for Reformists in the first round of presidential balloting to a two to one advantage for Conservatives without any intervening variables to explain the change.

What's wrong with this picture?  What event caused 5.6 million reformist votes
to switch to the hardliner Conservative Ahmadinejad in just seven days?


The 2005 election is of interest due to the boycott of many reformists.  In the first round of voting the race was close between the leading individual candidates, Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani.  But if you take the June 17th data and add up Conservative and Reformist votes by the the individual candidate's allegiance to Reformist or Conservative, you have an outcome in which Reformists out poll Conservatives by 56.6% to 39%. 

That is significant since the June 24th outcome was 61% Conservative to 39% for Reformists.  The Conservative win required that a significant number of Reformists defect to Ahmadinejad.  Why would they do that?  They'd ignored the other boycotting reformists.  They had a strong enough resolve to vote to avoid the boycott of their fellow reformists.  It's safe to assume that this was to fight a conservative win.  Why would they defect to Ahmadinejad.  Was the 2005 presidential race a rigged election?

Also see:  Iranian Election Fraud 2009: Who Was the Real Target... and Why?  June 15, 2009 

Data Sources:  Iran Tracker and Wikipedia Iran Presidential election 1989 through 2009.

Chart of 2005 with allied candidates