This is a historic day and potentially a turning point for the future of the Middle East – Iran is voting. If you want to play political junkie, stay tuned to Twitter, where you can follow #IranElection tweets out of Iran via the geolocated search. I also recommend following @mahdi and @Kawdess, for links and other info. Also, keep an eye on the Intrade electronic market, where reformist candidate Moussavi is leading Ahmadinejad by over 2:1 (in terms of current stock price).
Early reports indicate huge turnout, with gigantic lines at polling stations and extended hours. My feeling is that Ahmadinejad’s campaign probably motivated a lot of people to come out and vote, and turnout increases the chance that Ahmadinejad will be defeated. Unfortunately there’s more than one reformist candidate, but then again so too is there more than one non-reformist one, so hopefully these factors will wash. Moussavi is notable in that his wife is also a prominent public face of the campaign, one which Ahmadinejad attacked personally on television, so that should be good to motivate women to the polls as well. Also, the burgeoning youth demographic is very motivated in Moussavi’s favor as well.
The parallels to the 2008 US election are striking – a candidate representing change against the very symbol of the nation’s decline, with the economy playing a central role. Moussavi is not Obama in terms of his rhetorical skill or telegenic visage, but he is indeed the candidate of hope and change for Iran. I am optimistic that Moussavi will win, though since Iran doesn’t have a Nate Silver equivalent we have to wait the old fashioned way for the results.
Related – great bundle of election-eve analyses at The Daily Beast. Also, Razib crunches some numbers to see how polarized the Iranian electorate may be. Finally, Roger Cohen has a nice article about the elections that goes into detail about the political atmosphere, especially the role of Moussavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard. All worth reading!