Lessons Learned (and Ignored)

Iran’s 2017 Election in Context

by Arang Keshavarzian , Naghmeh Sohrabi | published May 26, 2017

On May 23, 1997, Mohammad Khatami, who had spent most of the 1990s as head of the National Library, defeated Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, the speaker of Parliament, to become president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The election was a turning point in post-revolutionary history—the underdog beat the preferred candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Leader of the Islamic Revolution (rahbar), with roughly 20 million votes or 70 percent of the total. Twenty years later, the incumbent president Hassan Rouhani drew parallels between that historic event and his own reelection bid, casting himself as the underdog this time and his main challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, as the man backed by the establishment.

Oman’s Consultative Council Elections

Shaking Up Tribal Hierarchies in Dhufar

by Alice Wilson
published in MER281

In October 2015, the Sultanate of Oman held elections for its Consultative Council. There was widespread coverage in the international media of elections convened during the same period in Argentina, Guatemala, Poland and several other countries, but the contests in Oman received little attention.

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Municipal Politics in Lebanon

by Ziad Abu-Rish
published in MER280

The municipal system has been a key pillar of debates on administrative decentralization, economic development and political participation in Lebanon. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, activists sought to stop the demolition of the 1924 Barakat Building on the basis that it was a heritage site. In response to public pressure, the Municipality of Beirut expropriated the building in 2013, and has since overseen a contentious process of transforming the space into a memory museum. International donors have increasingly directed aid flows for Syrian refugees in Lebanon through municipalities instead of the central government.

The Day Tehran Shook

by Farideh Farhi | published March 17, 2016

Speaking to a journalist days after the February 26 elections in Iran, leading reformist Mohammad Reza Aref stated, “When I saw the results for Tehran coming in, I was shocked.” Aref had expected the top of the list he headed to do well in the contest for Tehran’s 30 seats in the Tenth Majles, or Parliament, of the Islamic Republic. Most pre-election polls, in fact, had predicted that Aref’s slate would come out ahead in the capital. But its first-round sweep of all 30 seats, including many wins by unknown candidates, was a stunner for all involved.

Egypt's Elections

by Erika Post
published in MER147

If the riots of February 1986 ushered in a year of doubt about the future of Husni Mubarak’s regime, the events of early 1987 appear to indicate that he has consolidated his position both domestically and internationally. [1] Mubarak upstaged the opposition and enhanced his legitimacy by calling new parliamentary elections in which opposition forces were able to significantly increase their representation in the National Assembly. The government party, however, remains firmly in control of the parliament, virtually assuring the president's renomination in the fall for another six-year term, and approval of a new standby loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Youth in Turkey’s 2015 Elections

by Aydin Özipek | published June 19, 2015 - 11:48am

On June 7, Turkish citizens went to the polls to elect the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly. Although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 41 percent of the vote, it lost its majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002. It was a major blow for the party’s founder, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose plan to become a more powerful executive with fewer checks and balances seems to have been vetoed by the electorate.

Israel's Political Formations

by Joel Beinin
published in MER129

Alignment: The dominant party in the Labor Zionist movement was the right social-democratic Mapai. In 1965, a group loyal to Mapai’s historic leader, David Ben-Gurion, split and formed Rafi -- a formation characterized by an “activist” military policy and a technocratic/statist outlook. This group included Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Navon. The same year the first Alignment, an electoral coalition and not a merger of forces, was formed between Mapai and Ahdut ha-Avoda, a kibbutz-based party with a tradition of military activism and close links to the military establishment (best represented by Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister under Golda Meir and author of the “Allon Plan” for the occupied territories).

Israel's "National Unity"

by Zvi Schuldiner
published in MER129

Israel’s latest elections, for the eleventh Knesset, have certified the state of paralysis and polarization that has gripped the country since the Lebanon invasion of 1982. The results of the election, and the failure of the Likud bloc to maintain a decisive plurality, certainly represent one consequence of the Lebanon war. When Menachem Begin resigned as prime minister in the fall of 1983 without any public explanation, many Israelis attributed this move to the Lebanon “tragedy,” as Begin himself referred to the continuing war in a Knesset speech just before his resignation. Clearly a great many Israelis consider the war a failure -- even a nightmare.

Egypt's Elections, Mubarak's Bind

by Bertus Hendriks
published in MER129

In the May 1984 general elections in Egypt, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won almost 73 percent of the vote. The new Wafd got just above 15 percent. The other three contenders failed to get the eight percent minimum needed for a seat: the Socialist Labor Party (‘Amal) got just over seven percent; the National Progressive Unionist Party (Tagammu‘) got just over four percent; the Socialist Liberal Party (Ahrar) did not exceed one percent. These “lost” votes accrued to the biggest party, the NDP, which thus took 390 seats to the Wafd’s 58 seats. [1]

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by Andrea Teti , Vivienne Matthies-Boon , Gennaro Gervasio | published June 10, 2014

Over three days in late May, ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, the retired field marshal and former head of military intelligence, was elected president of Egypt with 96 percent of the vote. This tally was far higher than the 51.34 percent recorded in 2012 by the man Sisi helped to depose, Muhammad Mursi, and higher than the 88.6 percent racked up by Husni Mubarak in the rigged contest of 2005. Since the only other candidate, Hamdin Sabbahi, scarcely disagreed with Sisi on matters of policy during the campaign, a Sisi victory was a foregone conclusion, even if the margin was not.