Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Vote Totals in Iran? French language media versus English language

I have just observed one of the more curious disjunctures in the media between what is appearing in the media of one language and in another. I have just returned from France where I was watching Euronews in French and reading French newspapers, as well as various US and British sources in English and have looked through Juan Cole and WaPo and some others. I do not know the explanation of the disjuncture nor which is correct. Actually it is not a matter of disagreement so much as that the French are reporting something that I have seen zero reporting of in any of the English language media.

The matter is the reputed leaking of the actual vote totals from the Ministry of the Interior in the Iranian presidential election. Both on Euronews and in the newspaper Liberation the story is that the ministry was seized early in the aftermath of the election, throwing out the official functionaries. One of those is the reputed source of the vote totals reported in these sources. They are the following, to the nearest million:

Moussavi, 19 million
Kourabi, 13 million
Ahmadinejad, 6 million (actually 5,77)
Rezaie, 3 million.

So, if these numbers reported in the French language media are correct, Ahmadinejad not only did not get 62%, with Moussavi at 34, but he came in third with less than a third of the votes of Moussavi. If this report is correct, nobody in the world should be surprised by what has been happening there.


Barkley Rosser said...

Should have added the obvious that the seizure of the ministry was by pro-Ahmadinejad Revolutionary Guards.

Sandwichman said...

Andrew Sullivan had that report early on.

gordon said...

Maybe I'm missing it, but a quick search at Liberation doesn't bring up such a report, nor can I quickly find it at Le Monde. France-Soir search facility is acting up so I couldn't search there. Any links?

gordon said...

France-Soir search facility now working (tho' slow), & I don't quickly see such a report there either.

gordon said...

Well, not quite zero reporting in the English-language media. Here's a piece in The Independent by R. Fisk dated 18 June about the alleged report. Fisk handles it pretty gingerly, not committing himself to its genuineness.

gordon said...

Aha! Here is the Liberation piece which I guess Prof. Rosser is referring to. Very interesting. Apparently the person who revealed the alleged fraud has disappeared. That makes verification and corroboration difficult, especially in the volatile situation in Iran. Frankly, I'll keep an open mind. Maybe it's true, but it would also be awfully convenient.

Brent Finnegan said...

I have not been seeing these reports either. After a quick Google News search, it seems there is doubt as to whether these numbers are just as inaccurate as Ahmadinejad's numbers.

Whatever the real tally is, it seems less and less likely that Iran or the world will get an accurate count as it gets buried behind more sensational headlines and tear gas.

Anonymous said...

I heard W got fewer votes the Gore, but it seems the election was handed to the former by our own Supreme Council. Can't recall if Americans took to the streets, or how it all turned out.

Anyone here have information on that? Did the new president denounce the results? Did emigres in Tehran launch a twitter campaign? Did anyone wonder aloud whether the US nuke program was designed to build weapons of mass destruction? said...


Any links to the Sullivan piece?


Thanks for the links to The Independent and Liberation. BTW, I saw the Seraji, the film director on Euronews delivering these numbers in French.


I fear that you are correct that we shall never know the correct numbers. Somewhere they exist. Maybe, as some suggest, this memo was cooked up by US intel, but I am reasonably convinced that there was massive manipulation of the votes, massive, and that Ahmadinejad not only did not win, but lost by a big margin in reality, if perhaps not by as much as in this letter. If he had more support, we would not see what we are seeing on the streets now, and we would see a lot more of his supporters out there.

Quite aside from the incredible claim of 62% support for him, which if it were the case would imply plenty of people willing to show up in the streets to support him, the other obvious flaw in the official tally is the nearly equal ratios of votes for each candidate in most jurisdictions outside Tehran, including in the hometowns of the opposition candidates. Does anybody believe Ahmadinejad took 62% in the hometowns of Mousavi and Karoubi?


It is fully agreed upon that Gore got more popular votes than Bush. Our constitution has the thing decided upon by the electoral college, and we have had at least three others in the past, when the electoral college went the other way than the aggregate popular vote. I do not support the electoral college, but that is that. This is outright vote fraud.

Now, there remains a question of the Florida count in 2000, which if it had gone the other way would have put the electoral college on Gore's side. However, it is now known that even if Gore had gotten his way to have the counting done the way he wanted, Bush would have won Florida. The big joke is that if he had simply asked for a total count (slightly different than what he did ask for), there is reason to believe he would have won. But he did not. This is simply quite different from what has happened in Iran.

As for your second paragraph, it is incoherent. Who is the "new president"? Are you referring to then in place for three years Khatami in Iran in 2000? Are you referring to Obama now who is being denounced by Republicans for not complaining louder about the results (the leaders in Iran are just hoping for him to do so, so they can denounce all these people in the streets as being just foreign flunkies, especially US ones). Twitter? Duh. The twitter campaign now is coming out of Iran, not "launched" by emigres here, although the emigres here are certainly supporting it.

As for the nukes, well, I have frequently posted here in the past pointing out that Iran has never said it is building weapons. I think the deal Obama would make, if he can, is to guarantee their civil nuke program in exchange for some kind of stronger guarantee of no weapons. The real issue here is not the US, whose weapons were initially build in WW II, but Israel, whose leader wants to hit Iran with bombing and whom Obama is clearly trying to hold back. Obama and Netanyahu had a very long meeting. I note that this morning Charles Krauthammer was calling for Obama to make loud statements, even though this might lead to the demos being squashed. There are credible reports the Israelis are for Ahmadinejad to win, and I shall not push that argument further, although I know that Israeli opinion on this is very split. In any case, your comments are incoherent.

Bruce Webb said...

Gordon keep in mind there are two different connotations to "disappeared".

If the story even approaches truth you would expect the Revolutionary Guard to be actively 'disappearing' people.

Sandwichman said...

Here's the link from Andrew Sullivan, who in turn credits Electronic Maji at Kos.

Anonymous said...

The point is the outcome of the 2000 elections were not decided by the count in Florida, however flawed, but by the Supremes in Washington.

Still, we survived without interference or advice from Tehran or anywhere else on how to run our domestic affairs.

And, I am sure the Iranians can survive without our input into their elections difficulties.

Haven't enough people died in the past decade because Americans decided to pronounce on the legitimacy of their internal affairs?

Do you think it is possible to "apologize" for 30 years of the Shah one week, and then turn around the next to foment/support street actions against the same people in another silly little color-coded "revolution?"

If you wish to right a wrong, you might better spend your time getting your president to stop killing Afghanis. Or, perhaps, you could ask him to stop arming Israelis in the on-going extermination of Palestinians.

In 200 years, Iran has never once threatened a neighbor. I think the you and other Americans should wait at least that long before presuming to lecture others. said...


Thanks for the link.


Sorry, but you are to lunch. For starters, Obama has gone out of his way to comment minimally on this matter, precisely out of the concerns you are expressing. Why are you suggesting that the US is engaging in interference or advice, at least officially? I have heard a lot more official commentary out of other governments, and none of them are supporting what has gone in Iran.

So, fine, the Iranians (which ones?) should be able to determine their own affairs without "outside interference" (and it is precisely the history you cite that Obama refers to in avoiding any such intereference, much to the annoyance of the Republicans). But, even if somehow the numbers reported here prove not to be correct, the evidence is strong for various reasons that they are probably closer to reality than the official numbers.

Again, the case of Florida in 2000, the matter was of a few hundred votes. Here we are talking about massive switches of millions of votes. The US is standing aside, which should make it easier for the internal process to play itself out.

Just what is your complaint anyway? Past history that Obama seems to be going out of his way to avoid repeating?

Anonymous said...


I make a political observation and you respond by calling me insane. Pretty good.

A question I have is this:

Why would you care what the numbers were in the election when the principal influence on Iranian politics at the moment are your country's aircraft carriers plying the waters off Iran, the continuing occupation of 2 neighboring countries by your country, and military assistance by your country to another regional player who has threatened to attack Iran?

That is what YOUR country is doing right now, and it is a far greater danger to the Iranian people than which helpless puppet of the mullahs gets to sleep in the presidential palace.

My complaint is not with Obama - I know his limitations. It is with you. said...


With me? I have opposed the US war in Iraq from Day One. I have posted on here repeatedly criticizing the war whooping by MY COUNTRTY's leaders over the nuclear program in Iran, posting on numerous occasions that there have been mistranslations and misinterpretations of what the leaders of Iran have said.

Regarding the "regional player," I have already noted that one of the reasons Obama is pulling his punches is that he appears to be trying to hold the Israelis back. They have been war whooping against Iran big time, and it is pretty clear that Obama is not.

Glad you do not have a problem with Obama. Can you be a bit clearer about your problem with me? Still looks to me like you are out to lunch.

Let me also say that I have little respect for "Anonymous" posters who engage in personal attacks, especially when they are as groundless as the ones you are posing. You owe me an apology, "Anonymous."

Anonymous said...

Okay, I apologize.

Now, will you apologize for calling me insane? LOL

If it makes you feel better, you can call me Charley...

Listen, Rosser: Iran society is, as I stated before, not so much suffering from the lack of an accurate vote count as it is by the encirclement of that country by the United States.

That encirclement relies on the massive economic advantage the US enjoys over Iran which consists of two things:

1. A highly advanced industrial base, and,
2. The ownership of the world reserve currency.

With this advantage, the United States is able to pursue a very aggressive forward military policy, while utilizing its currency to fund massive goods inflows from low-wage countries to offset what would otherwise be a drain on domestic consumption and investment.

There is only one solution to this threat to Iran, and it isn't free and fair elections between handpicked presidential candidates.

The solution is for economists like yourself to take on an analysis of this structural militarization of the American economy and propose policy to bring it down - among them, and in this crisis an very urgent one, the reduction of hours of work.

gordon said...

Bruce Webb: "If the story even approaches truth you would expect the Revolutionary Guard to be actively 'disappearing' people".

Would I? And would the disappearance of the alleged report's whistle-blower prove that the report is genuine? If the latter (which seems perilously close to your view), then it would help his case to disappear. Then you would believe the report true.

That whole line of thought gets circular pretty quickly.

gordon said...

Prof. Rosser, you're welcome. Has the story been picked up by other French media, or is Liberation running with it alone? Any links?

Barkley Rosser said...


Thanks again for your efforts. I am not chasing down these links as I am no longer in France and occupied with lots of other things.


Heck, I do not know either. Maybe we shall never know.


I accept your apology.

Of course, there is a problem here. I never called you "insane." I called you "incoherent." So, you owe me another apology. I note that while insanity is one possible source of incoherence, the more common sources are ignorance and stupidity.

Before you comment here on this matter further (and I am about to post again), I suggest you read the chapter on Iran in Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy by me and my wife, Marina, originally published by Irwin in 1996, second edition, MIT Press, 2004. The chapter was key to our redefining the nature of comparative economics, with our then introduced concept of the "new traditional economy" being the key, with Iran the key example.

Jack said...

I think Anon's point(s) become more lucid, or distinctive, when distillized down to its essence. The US has been incoherent in its foreign policy in the near and middle east regions. It seems a blend of blind rage resulting from general terrorist activities and self serving hegemony confused with economic self interest. I would suggest that such an incoherent conglomeration of actions on the part of a series of US administrations results from an intention to further the economic and political interests of our own economic elite. That being combined with US reverence to its own support of Isreal and all the complications that have resulted from position over the past sixty years. Yes, its a very confused policy resulting in a strange set of bed fellows.

Anon implies an identity that is other than American. The points he seems to want to make are not so much incoherent as they are less than well stated. But the crux of his argument is clearly that the US should get its own political policies in order before expressing any evaluative opinions regarding the circumstances in Iran, or any other sovereign nation. I don't think one should take offense at Anon's apparent frustration with official US foreign policy in the near and middle east.

Barkley Rosser said...


As already stated, but which anon seems to have been unaware of, I have long been critical of US policy and stances in the Middle East, and particularly with regard to Iran. As it is, I continue to applaud the calm approach of Obama to this specific situation. As it is, I am continuing to watch the reports of bloodshed on the streets of Tehran. If you or Anonymous want to say that US citizens should not be concerned about this, or dismiss these people as stooges of the US or UK, well, be my guest, but I think that anyone taking such a stance is worse than merely incoherent.

Jack said...

No Barkley, that is not at all my point. What I mean to say, as I have in a comment on the last post, is that there seem to be no good guys in this factional dispute. Too bad that innocent people will suffer, but that is always the case when there is factional disputes in a totalitarian political environment.
We can only hope that the factions will destroy one another and give way to a government more focused on the good of the Iranian people.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Professor Rosser is correct: I think US citizens should not be concerned about the events in Iran. In fact, I think US citizens have no cause to be concerned about events anywhere other than what is going on right here.

He is the expert on this, but who can ignore about fifty years of American encirclement and destruction of Iranian society. Iran will clean up its own mess, but who will bring the criminals of American foreign policy to account?

He has nothing of significance to say on events in his own country, but from his university armchair he can pronounce on events in Iran.

How can one speak of Iran without discussing National Security Council Memoradum 68, and how the US government manages and funds this ongoing encirclement of Iran though Wall Street, from Operation Ajax, to Iran's war with Iraq to the present color-coded "revolution" on the streets of Tehran.

He may not know how our economy has been progressively militarized to support these actions, he may be ignorant of how it has been aided by economists like himself for seven decades, and he is probably completely confused over why it is now collapsing around his ears - much to the chagrin of the economics field - but he can sure call an election from 5000 miles away.

Aircraft carriers from his country cruise the waters around Iran, US troops occupy two nations on Iran's border, and Iran is still healing from the slaughter of 250,000 persons by the US backed Iraqi regime, but what is really important to Professor Rosser is that some handpicked puppet of the Iranian clerics got cheated out of an election by another handpicked puppet of the clerics.

How can any American with moral backbone know this history and not speak out first and foremost against the blatant hypocrisy of the American government's pronouncements on Iran. How can any American know this history and not be embarrassed by the public displays and handwringing going on inside the beltway, and on American television.

What cheek! What bald shamelessness!

I would say his concerns for Iranian democracy are more than a little misplaced.

Add to that the millions of workers in his own country who are now wandering the streets unemployed and homeless, with millions more to join them in the coming months as a direct result of these policies.
What is important to Professor Rosser is to divert our attention to some meaningless instance of clerical rule in one of our more restive provinces.

In this, he has the complete support of both houses of Congess, and now the Messiah himself.

Keep up the good work Professor!