'Election Day': A Day of Protest
Interview with International Weekly
International: There is only a few days left to the Islamic Republic of Iran's presidential 'elections.' The Worker-communist Party of Iran's policy has been to initiate a movement of non-participation and opposition to the regime. Today, this movement has become extensive; it is even being said that 70 to 80 percent will not participate. Furthermore, nearly all political organisations have gradually arrived at the policy of boycotting the 'elections.' Is this the state of affairs that the WPI has strived for?
Mansoor Hekmat: I think that this, more than anything, is the fact that our Party has tried to explain to the various so-called opposition organisations - the fact that the people of Iran want an end to the Islamic regime. We have explained that their vote for Khatami four years ago illustrated neither a compromise nor any illusions towards Islamic and structural Reformism; it was rather a political intervention to diffuse the government and a declaration of popular contempt for the system. In the last four years, the Worker-communist Party of Iran has become the main spokesperson, and in one way the only spokesperson on a social scale for this radicalism and progressive demand for the ouster of the regime. In the last two years in particular the Party has reached out to people on a widespread and mass scale with its views and publicity reaching millions in Iran on the daily basis; the Party itself has been an effective source of guiding and expanding this radicalism in Iran and pushing back the so-called 'opposition' groups supportive of the Islamic government and the 2nd Khordad camp abroad. Today, Worker-communism and the Party in a true sense of the word have opened their place in the rationalisations of different sections of society both Right and Left, from on the political situation, analysis of possible future trends, current alternatives, etc. The Party is currently at the centre of political dealings of Iran and is the banner bearer of the opposition to the government and its deceitful supporters in the so-called 'opposition.' The Party has certainly shared in creating and maintaining this radical atmosphere in Iran. But this situation is definitely not the result of the Party's efforts. On the contrary, the Party's success in recent years is the result of the political realities in Iran, which in turn are rooted in the current economic, political and cultural crisis in Iranian society.
Today's atmosphere is proving to any observer that the Worker-communist Party has been that current which throughout this time has had its hands on society's pulse, and is familiar with the people's demands and psychology as well as the political situation's dynamics. We knew and emphasised the radicalism of the people, the hopeless situation of the government and the nature of the factional infighting. It was we who talked about the incompatibility of the people and the government, the inability of the 2nd Khordad to tame the movement to ouster the regime and the people, and the impossibility of a second type of Islamic Republic vis-à-vis the entire embassy grown 'intellectuals' and miscellaneous 2nd Khordad PhDs. Now these points do not even require reasoning. All of them are saying this. They themselves are saying so. The roundtable discussions abroad are facing a serious shortage of 2nd Khordad and 'Reformist' panellists! Those who criticised themselves four years ago for boycotting the 'elections' and 'falling behind the people' then are now 'courageously' at the forefront of the boycotting ranks. Even the Fedaian Majority and miscellaneous Republicans, who have created societies in defence of Hajarian and the regime's ministry of information abroad, are clearly calling on 'the people to widely participate in the elections and again vote for Khatami with the knowledge that the elections are rigged and undemocratic!' The General Secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran has declared that Khatami is the system's candidate and that his aim is to maintain the government and not reform. The 2nd Khordad's puppet show is over. The Worker-communist Party of Iran and the dissatisfied and radical people are creating the current atmosphere in Iran. But boycotting the 'elections' does not express our position. Today's boycotters are still behind the people. The question is not over people's not voting; this is our assumption. The question is to transform 'Election Day' into a mass nationwide protest action against the government.
International: What is the difference between the WPI's position and the policy of nearly all political groups, which is non-participation in the 'elections?'
Mansoor Hekmat: Our position is to assemble, picket and demonstrate at the main polling stations. To remain at home and not vote is behind the political situation. It is insufficient. We want people to assemble at the polling stations and not only not vote, but like workers' pickets form a queue and hold discussions with and dissuade those who want to vote. They should tell those who want to vote that voting legitimises the very essence of the government. They should expose the nature of the government's factions. 'Election Day' must be turned into mass general meetings in polling areas. There must be heated discussions and debates. They must give slogans, say 'no,' condemn the regime and show people's actual resolve. The government has announced the day, time and place of our assembly. It has invited us to attend. This is the best opportunity for simultaneous millions-strong demonstrations all over the country against the government. Some talk generally about saying 'no' to the 'elections' and demonstrating on that day. From our point of view this is vague and unpractical. These assemblies and demonstrations must take place at polling stations. These assemblies could turn into mass marches, but these primary assemblies and pickets are essential. All attention will be on the polling stations. Whatever happens will be reflected and recorded widely by the bourgeois media. Our response to the 'electoral' show must be delivered there and then. It is easier, massive and more significant.
International: It is argued that assembling at of the polling stations is dangerous. It is like going to the beehives and should, therefore, not be done. What is your view?
Mansoor Hekmat: To go is not dangerous since the government has asked people to go and vote. The question is the type of action that we take. Will we vote or linger and debate until a crowd develops and then move to picketing and demonstrating. It is possible to organise beforehand and to go in numbers so that no one is singled out. Do not forget that the regime's security forces and thugs must spread themselves thin throughout the country. In any single polling area, the number of people will be greater than the number of security forces. In fact, it is they who are coming to the beehives. If they want to intervene, they will add to the conflict. Furthermore, their hands are tied in preventing people's presence and debate around the 'elections' and the candidates. The pickets and demonstrations must be formed naturally and in apparent spontaneity resulting from heated discussions and the gathering of a crowd. The agitators and political activists must not be identified until they are satisfied with the crowd's power. People and specifically political activists and the youth know this very well. One other point is that the regime's supporters are not approaching this from a unified position. They have differences about the 'elections' and the candidates. All these factors are in our favour. This is an extremely suitable opportunity for the independent and militant expression of the people and must not be lost. Anywhere that this action takes place it will be headline news in world media the following day as the independent movement of the people against the totality of the Islamic government and its factions.
The above is a translation of an interview by International Weekly, published in Farsi in International Weekly number 56 dated June 1, 2001. The English version is a reprint from WPI Briefing.
Translators: Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya