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Geopolitics

From France To Iran, The People (Mostly) Have Their Say

Supporters of Iran's presidential challenger Ebrahim Reisi
Supporters of Iran's presidential challenger Ebrahim Reisi
Roy Greenburgh

PARIS — In the final days of the recent French presidential campaign, one confrontation looked like it might turn the tables in favor of underdog Marine Le Pen. Angry workers facing the closing of a Whirlpool plant in the northern city of Amiens cursed and whistled at visiting frontrunner Emmanuel Macron, accusing him of being the candidate of global finance at the expense of the ordinary folk of France. The 39-year-old Macron, however, managed to hold his own and defend his ideas in the hostile confines, on his way to what turned out to be a resounding victory on May 7 against his far-right opponent. Vive la France. Vive la démocratie.

It turns out, on the very same day as the French election, democracy of a different stripe was heating up far away in Iran — with a scene that looked surprisingly similar to Macron's moment of truth at the shuttering factory. Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani had decided to visit the Zemestanyurt coal mine following an accidental explosion that had left dozens dead, sparking criticism about inadequate safety regulations. A video showing Rouhani's dark-windowed car surrounded by angry miners was soon circulated by his conservative opponents in an attempt to portray the reformist incumbent as detached from the people's problems.

Elections are relatively free, even if clerics have a say on who can run

As Le Monde reports from Tehran, Rouhani fought back with "unprecedented ferocity" ahead of Friday's election against conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi. "Don't talk about tolerance in the face of criticism," the 68-year-old president said this week, "when none of you dared to criticize the institution for which you work."

Lively Iranian campaigning, in itself, may surprise those who think of the Islamic Republic of Iran as much more of a theocracy than a democracy. But in fact, presidential elections are relatively free — even if clerics have a say on who can run — and surprises from voters have occurred several times over the past two decades, including with Rouhani's win four years ago.

Defining Iran an "undemocratic democracy," The New York Times traced the origins of this somewhat schizophrenic system to the 1979 Revolution, when Islamists teamed up with liberal reformers to take down the Shah and muscle out the nation's Communist faction.

Presidential elections — like the one Friday in Iran and those last week in France and last year in the U.S. — are increasingly global affairs that we follow in real-time across our hyper-connected world. But the decision rests in the hands of the people and politics of each single nation. Unless, of course, the Kremlin intervenes …

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Geopolitics

Modi Is Wrong: Russia's War Also Creates Real Risks For India

By shrugging aside Russia’s aggression, India has shown indifference to fears that China could follow Russia’s example.

Photo of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi Visits Russia

Anita Inder Singh*

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — India is wrong to dismiss Russia’s war in Ukraine as Europe’s problem. The illegality and destructiveness of the invasion, and consequential food and energy crises, have global ramifications.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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This explains why 143 out of the 193 member-states of the UN General Assembly voted against recognizing Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions after holding sham referenda there. Ninety-three voted in favor of expelling Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

India has abstained from every vote in the UN condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The reason? Moscow is India’s top arms supplier and some 70% of India’s military platforms are of Russian origin.

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