IT is difficult to judge the significance of yesterday afternoon's decision by Iran's Supreme Leader to reverse his previous view that Friday's elections had been “fair”. By ordering an investigation into allegations that the polls were rigged the Ayatollah Khamenei has given some hope to Hossein Mousavi who many think won the election but was placed well behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the official results. It is not easy to understand how the Ayatollah satisfied himself so quickly about the validity of the vote in the first place but he has now placed the investigation into the hands of the Guardian Council of advisers who are likely to take a week to reach a conclusion. Meanwhile, rogue results are surfacing, two of them showing Mousavi to be an easy winner, and one a rather more interesting result obtained by two American polling experts and reported in the Washington Post which showed Ahmadinejad in the lead in all of Iran's 30 provinces during most of the campaign. The always dependable Robert Fisk, in the Independent, also reported that well-placed Iranians whose judgement he respects had told him that notwithstanding Mousavi's bold campaign, Ahmadinejad would win. Even if Ahmadinejad's victory is confirmed it seems unlikely that Iranian politics can ever be the same again. A sleeping giant of young voters and women voters of all ages has been awakened and is unlikely to return to somnolence.


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