Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt newspaper

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Can We Compare Elections?

The British elections gave the Labour Party a historic victory following 14 years of Conservative rule. President Emmanuel Macron lost in the first round of the snap legislative elections in France to the right.

The debate about President Joe Biden's health and his capacity for running for re-election in the United States continues. Meanwhile, some are talking about the Iranian elections and the implications of the results. However, is this comparison logical or tenable? Of course not.

We can compare the United States, Britain, and France with one another. But comparing either of them to Iran is fundamentally misleading. That is not to say that the Iranian elections are unimportant. However, they are crucial for understanding how one man, the Supreme Leader, thinks and how Iranian society accepts that way of thinking.

The comparison is illogical because it is a talking point of Iranian propaganda, which claims that the country holds real elections, which is not true. Everyone knows that over the stages leading up to those elections, a council appointed by the Supreme Leader controls the selection process, determining who can and cannot run.

Moreover, the Supreme Leader and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) hold the reins, make the decisions, as well as in shaping the policies of Iran. This means that nothing is really going to change, and Iran pursues whatever tactics the Supreme Leader and the IRGC deem fit at any given stage.

Meanwhile, the process in France, Britain, and the United States is entirely different. Theirs are serious elections that will impact not only these countries, but also Europe and the world, including our region, deciding crucial matters for our region, both in the present and the future.

Those elections will have an impact on Europe, Britain, or France’s politics, military, economy, and social cohesion. Europe and the United States are seeing shifts that push against the current. They are now more inclined to embrace nationalism and oppose globalization and the changes it creates.

For example, in the United States, we have the specter of a Democratic Party split following President Biden's insistence on running for re-election. This comes after his miserable debate against rival candidate Donald Trump that left Democrats scared they could lose the elections.

These risks are exacerbated by a Republican-Democrat struggle that has gone further than all those that have preceded it. President Barack Obama and then former President Trump are primarily responsible for this clear and dangerous internal fragmentation in the US, despite the strength of its institutions.

However, this division in the US has left its mark on everything, including academic, political, and media institutions. The country is polarized and its society is split, which requires a long discussion to explain.

We see the same state of affairs in Europe; chaos has prevailed in Britain since it left the European Union, taking economic, security, and health setbacks, giving us the impression that Britain needs a miracle for a better future.

Similarly, in France and the rest of Europe, populism is on the rise, the economy is in crisis, and there is a refugee crisis. Europe also fears terrorism, along with the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, which has shown that the old continent needs change. Europe is going through a laborious process of rejecting the status quo, but it is unable to live with it nor break free from it.

Therefore, it is misguided and simplistic to even refer to Iranian elections at this stage. They are an entirely different matter and are not genuine elections in the first place.