In ordinary government systems, elections are held to secure the legitimacy of the political system.
The legitimacy index of any system is based on people's approval and satisfaction of their sovereignty and exercise of power and management of public affairs over them. The index is tested through elections, demonstrations, protests, rallies, and strikes.
Hossein Kachuyian, sociologist and professor at Tehran University said in an interview in 2017: “The non-presence of the people in a rally of February 11th (anniversary of anti-monarchy revolution) not only puts in question the dignity of the Islamic Revolution but also the possibility of overthrowing it, as its legitimacy depends on this presence.”
On the 41st anniversary of the anti-monarchy revolution on February 11, very low turnouts have been reported by International media despite the free subway, awards, rewards, gifts and a "free-clear criminal background certificate" from the police for citizens attending the rally.
In this show of force, even 5% of members of families of government officials, the Revolutionary Guards and Basij did not show up for even a couple of hours. Thus, not only was the dignity of the Islamic Revolution questioned but it also showcased the prelude to its overthrow.
However, the election of February 21st is held in different conditions than in previous years.
People's November protests in 191 cities across 29 provinces out of the country's 31 provinces quickly became politicized, with people openly burning Khomeini's images and chanting: "Death to Khamenei", "Islamic Republic, we do not want, we do not want", "Our disgrace Our disgrace, our stupid leader”, "Death to the dictator," "Dictator, leave the country alone", "We don't want bad or worse Neither king nor leader” and “Death to the Tyrant”.
These slogans were aimed at the entire system. In these protests, the regime's security forces on the behest of Khamenei used live ammunition and heavy machineguns against the protesters and killed more than 1500 to prevent the protests from spreading.
The parliamentary election will be held on February 21. Khamenei is attempting to use the election as a tool to implement his policies. Therefore, the election should be held in ultra-dictatorial style based on lies and blackmails. Khamenei's reasoning for this behaviour is this election is a security issue, for the sake of maintaining the integrity of the system, not an ordinary election.
For the past few weeks, to engineer the results of the election, Khamenei has been using the leverage of the Guardian Council, a body that has been the decision-maker and elected by him, for approval and disapproval of candidates through his own filter. In this engineering, he has removed the rival gang from the scene.
At the same time, President Rouhani, who oversees holding and controlling the election has been putting pressure on Khamenei for his share of power by saying he will not cooperate in electoral engineering and will announce the actual turnout.
Khamenei also leverages the head of the judiciary, which he himself has chosen, to issue verdicts, prosecute and torture. Khamenei also uses this tool to further his goals and policies by threatening and intimidating others.
He has clearly heard the slogan of “Death to Khamenei” in the demonstrations and now inevitably confesses, saying in a weak tone: "One may not like me, but if you love Iran, you must come to the ballot box."
But Khamenei has carried out a dangerous surgery by disqualifying many candidates. The surgery may be a spark for the uprising, but he has no other response to the public outcry and outrage.
Jahan Sanat newspaper wrote: "With the November protests ... this situation poses a threat not just to the specific faction but to the whole system". Rouhani, too, began to support the regime and Khamenei in recent weeks. When he saw the whole system in danger, he supported the supreme leader in his speeches and urged people to go to the polls.
However Iranian people, have long responded to Rouhani and Khamenei in their protests. On February 16 the Amir Kabir University Students in Tehran held a rally protesting against the regime's upcoming sham Majlis (parliamentary) elections on February 21.
The students chanted, “People are struggling with poverty, (officials) only care about getting votes”, and “No to the ballot box, no to the vote, election boycott”.
Perviz S. Khazai is a law graduate and former Apprentice diplomat in French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in IIAP (ENA)Paris, in United Nations in Geneva; Red Cross International; Council of Europe in Strasbourg and International Court of Justice in The Hague 1969-1971. He served as an international law expert of foreign affairs in Tehran 1976-1979 and as the head of the mission and acting ambassador in Norway and Sweden in 1979-1982.