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The rigged election: 10 tell-tale signs

1 Opinion polls showed that the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had a strong lead over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the eve of the poll. This changed overnight into a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad.

2 Ahmadinejad won in Tehran – despite his noted unpopularity in Iran’s big cities, and despite Mousavi having drawn a million supporters on to the streets of the capital just days before polling.

3 Official results show Ahmadinejad beat Mousavi even in his home town, Tabriz, where ethnic Azeri candidates – such as Mousavi – are usually a shoo-in.

4 Mousavi is not alone in crying foul – the other two opposition candidates, the liberal Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei, a conservative, have also appealed against the official result.

5 Karroubi, a former Speaker, saw his vote share collapse from 17 per cent in 2005 to less than 1 per cent – even in his home province of Lorestan.

6 The Iranian authorities imposed a post-election information blackout. Cellphone networks went down and foreign websites such as the BBC and Facebook were blocked.

7 The interior ministry declared victory for Ahmadinejad only two hours after the polls closed. And the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, signed off on the result straight away, instead of following the normal three-day verification process.

8More than 100 members of the major opposition factions were arrested the day after the election, including high-profile figures such as the brother of the ex-president Mohammad Khatami.

9 There are reports of voting “irregularities” in pro-Mousavi cities. In Tabriz, for example, ballot papers ran out at 11am.

10 Ahmadinejad, an unpopular incumbent president in charge of a stagnant economy, got a higher proportion of the vote this time round than he did when he won in 2005 as a popular, fresh-faced insurgent.

This article first appeared in the 22 June 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Iran