Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Iran elections: It's the economy, stupid

Ol' Mahmoud did not see favorable results from Iran's local elections.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a significant setback in nationwide elections held on Friday for municipal councils and a key supervisory body, with voters evidently rebuking him for failing to deliver on promises to improve the economy.

Although results from the councils were still coming in on Monday, the tally so far indicated that candidates from the reformist and pragmatic conservative camps — the two main groups opposing the populist, hard-line president — emerged stronger from the vote. Presidential allies took a drubbing in important cities.

Municipal elections reflect the voters’ feelings on basic concerns like growing unemployment and the slumping real estate market, according to analysts inside Iran and overseas. Domestic problems eclipse the more notorious issues to which the president has drawn international attention, like developing nuclear technology or questioning the Holocaust.

Iran's economic problems are our best hope of applying pressure on them. Diplomacy means nothing to them. Let's hope that there are enough forward thinkers in Washington to sieze upon this. It isn't a silver bullet for the problems Iran is causing across the Middle East and the world, but it is a damn good starting place.

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