Chatham House investigation into election results in Iran shows fraud almost certain

Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Unviersity of St Andrews have just published a Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election, which supports the claims of election fraud in Iran.

The report says:

Working from the province by province breakdowns of the 2009 and 2005 results, released by the Iranian Ministry of Interior on the Farsi pages of their website shortly after the election, and from the 2006 census as published by the official Statistical Centre of Iran, the following observations about the official data and the debates surrounding it can be made.

  • In two conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of more than 100% was recorded. [Four other regions show a turnout of more than 90%.]
  • If Ahmadinejad’s victory was primarily caused by the increase in voter turnout, one would expect the data to show that the provinces where there was the greatest ‘swing’ in support towards Ahmadinejad would also be the provinces with the greatest increase in voter turnout. This is not the case.
  • In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.
  • In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends.

These results are not significantly affected by the statement of the Guardian Council that some voters may have voted outside their home district, thus causing the irregularities highlighted by the defeated Mohsen Rezai. Whilst it is possible for large numbers of voters to cast their ballots outside their home district (one of 366), the proportion of people who would have cast their votes outside their home province is much smaller, as the 30 provinces are too large for effective commuting across borders. In Yazd, for example, where turnout was above 100% at provincial level, there are no significant population centres near provincial boundaries.

The total turnout for these elections was 84 per cent, up from 60 percent and 63 per cent in the 2005 presidential elections, and 68 per cent in the 2001 presidential elections. The highest turnout since 1980 was 79 per cent in 1981, but in the past 10 years it has sat at 60–70 per cent. Now, I don’t know whether there is something special about the Iranian electorate, but I have worked in a couple of elections here in New Zealand, and from that experience and research we did of overseas trends that a jump of more than 20 per cent is virtually unheard of in a country with a well-functioning democracy and generally high turnout, which seems to be the case in Iran. Changes in turnout are normally in the single figures, and normally less than five per cent.

The report highlights some serious anomalies, and strongly supports the claims of the reformist groups.

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