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Thread: Iran elections: both rivals declare victory

  1. #1
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Iran elections: both rivals declare victory

    Iran election rivals both declare victory


    The two main candidates in Iran's presidential election have claimed victory, after extended voting as huge numbers of people turned out to vote.

    Reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi told a news conference that he had won by a substantial margin.

    However, state media said hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won, and officials said he had got 69% of the 10 million votes so far counted.

    But Mr Mousavi has complained of some voting irregularities.

    He said there had been a shortage of ballot papers and millions of people had been denied the right to vote.

    His election monitors were not allowed enough access to polling stations, he added, saying he would deal seriously with any fraud.

    "[We] are waiting for the counting of votes to officially end and explanations of these irregularities to be given," Mr Mousavi said. "We expect to celebrate with people soon.

    "We hope that authorities in charge do their work in this regard."

    Surge of interest

    Electoral commission chief Kamran Daneshjoo said Mr Ahmadinejad had gained about seven million of the 10 million so far counted, compared with three million for Mr Mousavi.

    But the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran says that most of these votes come from rural areas, where Mr Ahmadinejad is considered to be stronger.

    With the count in its early stages, our correspondent says, the rival declarations could be a case of the two candidates just sending a warning.

    There has been a surge of interest recently in Iran's presidential election, with unprecedented live television debates between the candidates and rallies attended by thousands.

    There have been long queues of voters at polling stations, with officials predicting an "unprecedented" turnout.

    Four candidates are contesting the election, with Mohsen Razai and Mehdi Karroubi trailing the two main contenders.

    If no candidate gets 50% in the first round, the two front-runners will face a run-off vote.

    The result will be watched closely outside Iran - in the US, Israel, and European capitals - for any hint of a possible shift in the country's attitude to the rest of the world, BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says.

    The timing of the election is also crucial, as the US push for a new policy of engagement with Tehran cannot really get going until the outcome of the election is clear, our correspondent adds.

    US President Barack Obama said as the polling drew to a close that he was "excited" by the robust debate taking place in the country.

    Women's interest

    President Ahmadinejad draws support mainly from the urban poor and rural areas, while his rivals have huge support among the middle classes and the educated urban population.

    Iranian women have also shown great interest in the election and it appears many of them will be voting for the moderate candidates who have promised them more social freedoms, our analyst says.

    The votes in regions with national and religious minorities are also important, as they normally vote for reformist candidates.

    Mr Mousavi is an ethnic Azeri and is expected to do well in his province, as is Mehdi Karroubi in his native Lorestan province.

    Iran is ruled under a system known as Velayat-e Faqih, or "Rule by the Supreme Jurist", who is currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    It was adopted by an overwhelming majority in 1979 following the Islamic revolution which overthrew the autocratic Western-backed Shah.

    But the constitution also stipulates that the people are the source of power and the country holds phased presidential and parliamentary elections every four years.

    All candidates are vetted by the powerful conservative-controlled Guardian Council, which also has the power to veto legislation it deems inconsistent with revolutionary principles.

    BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran election rivals both declare victory
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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Nice to see a fair and representative democracy in that part of the region.

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    Default The Devil Is in the Digits

    washingtonpost.com

    Since the declaration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide victory in Iran's presidential election, accusations of fraud have swelled. Against expectations from pollsters and pundits alike, Ahmadinejad did surprisingly well in urban areas, including Tehran -- where he is thought to be highly unpopular -- and even Tabriz, the capital city of opposition candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi's native East Azarbaijan province.
    Others have pointed to the surprisingly poor performance of Mehdi Karroubi, another reform candidate, and particularly in his home province of Lorestan, where conservative candidates fared poorly in 2005, but where Ahmadinejad allegedly captured 71 percent of the vote. Eyebrows have been raised further by the relative consistency in Ahmadinejad's vote share across Iran's provinces, in spite of wide provincial variation in past elections.
    These pieces of the story point in the direction of fraud, to be sure. They have led experts to speculate that the election results released by Iran's Ministry of the Interior had been altered behind closed doors. But we don't have to rely on suggestive evidence alone. We can use statistics more systematically to show that this is likely what happened. Here's how.
    We'll concentrate on vote counts -- the number of votes received by different candidates in different provinces -- and in particular the last and second-to-last digits of these numbers. For example, if a candidate received 14,579 votes in a province (Mr. Karroubi's actual vote count in Isfahan), we'll focus on digits 7 and 9.
    This may seem strange, because these digits usually don't change who wins. In fact, last digits in a fair election don't tell us anything about the candidates, the make-up of the electorate or the context of the election. They are random noise in the sense that a fair vote count is as likely to end in 1 as it is to end in 2, 3, 4, or any other numeral. But that's exactly why they can serve as a litmus test for election fraud. For example, an election in which a majority of provincial vote counts ended in 5 would surely raise red flags.
    Why would fraudulent numbers look any different? The reason is that humans are bad at making up numbers. Cognitive psychologists have found that study participants in lab experiments asked to write sequences of random digits will tend to select some digits more frequently than others.
    So what can we make of Iran's election results? We used the results released by the Ministry of the Interior and published on the web site of Press TV, a news channel funded by Iran's government. The ministry provided data for 29 provinces, and we examined the number of votes each of the four main candidates -- Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai -- is reported to have received in each of the provinces -- a total of 116 numbers.
    The numbers look suspicious. We find too many 7s and not enough 5s in the last digit. We expect each digit (0, 1, 2, and so on) to appear at the end of 10 percent of the vote counts. But in Iran's provincial results, the digit 7 appears 17 percent of the time, and only 4 percent of the results end in the number 5. Two such departures from the average -- a spike of 17 percent or more in one digit and a drop to 4 percent or less in another -- are extremely unlikely. Fewer than four in a hundred non-fraudulent elections would produce such numbers.
    As a point of comparison, we can analyze the state-by-state vote counts for John McCain and Barack Obama in last year's U.S. presidential election. The frequencies of last digits in these election returns never rise above 14 percent or fall below 6 percent, a pattern we would expect to see in seventy out of a hundred fair elections.
    But that's not all. Psychologists have also found that humans have trouble generating non-adjacent digits (such as 64 or 17, as opposed to 23) as frequently as one would expect in a sequence of random numbers. To check for deviations of this type, we examined the pairs of last and second-to-last digits in Iran's vote counts. On average, if the results had not been manipulated, 70 percent of these pairs should consist of distinct, non-adjacent digits.
    Not so in the data from Iran: Only 62 percent of the pairs contain non-adjacent digits. This may not sound so different from 70 percent, but the probability that a fair election would produce a difference this large is less than 4.2 percent. And while our first test -- variation in last-digit frequencies -- suggests that Rezai's vote counts are the most irregular, the lack of non-adjacent digits is most striking in the results reported for Ahmadinejad.
    Each of these two tests provides strong evidence that the numbers released by Iran's Ministry of the Interior were manipulated. But taken together, they leave very little room for reasonable doubt. The probability that a fair election would produce both too few non-adjacent digits and the suspicious deviations in last-digit frequencies described earlier is less than .005. In other words, a bet that the numbers are clean is a one in two-hundred long shot.

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