Six years after Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, which led to widespread demonstrations, violence and arrests, 28 percent of Iranians who took part in a recent poll believe the protests were unpatriotic and an affront to the Islamic Republic, referring to protests after the election as “the Sedition.”
But, the poll reveals, the same percentage of those polled refer to the post-election demonstrations as “the Green Movement.”
The survey looked at the legacy of the events of 2009, seeking to get a clear view on what Iranians really believed about the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the government’s response to widespread protests.
Information and Public Opinion Solutions LLC (iPOS), a company that provides data about Iranian public opinion, conducted the poll for IranWire.
Of those who answered the survey, 59 percent believe that the 2009 election results, which led to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad securing another term as president, were correct. But 29 percent refused to say whether fraud was involved. Nineteen percent labeled the results as “fraudulent.”
When asked about the current situation for leaders of the Green Movement, 31 percent of respondents said they were aware that reformist former candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were under house arrest, while 58 percent stated that they were unaware of this. Nevertheless, when provided with this information, among those who said they had not previously known about it, 21 percent said that the former candidates should be freed; 19 percent believed that they should stand trial; eight percent said that Iranian law had to be applied to their cases to decide whether they should remain under house arrest; and six percent said they should remain under house arrest. Forty percent had no opinion.
The survey was conducted by telephone and evaluates the events of 2009 from two points of view:
1. The level that respondents were engaged with the events of 2009.
2. How the respondents evaluate the events.
For example, respondents were asked if they could recall the names of presidential candidates in the 2009 election, apart from President Ahmadinejad. Around 69 percent of respondents knew the name of at least one other candidate. About 60 percent knew the name Mir Hossein Mousavi; 51 percent knew the name Mehdi Karroubi; and 42 percent knew that Mohsen Rezaei had been a candidate.
Pollsters also asked the public whether they voted in 2009. The question was put to participants aged 24 years old or older — those who had been of voting age or older in 2009. Of those polled, around 88 percent said they had voted, a figure that correlates with Iranian official government statistics, which put the percentage at 85. This takes into account a three percent margin of error.
Another question related to fraud and corruption. In 2009, there was widespread belief among some sections of society that the results of the election were rigged, and that Mir Hossein Mousavi won the election. This gave rise to the Green Movement.
Six years have passed since the elections, and the poll — supported by media speculation — suggests that some parts of the Iranian public might have changed their opinions during this time. The iPOS poll sought to get a clear idea of the legacy of the Green Movement and how it shapes people’s opinions today. In other words, after six years of media reporting and propaganda on both sides, what does the Iranian public currently think?
The survey shows that almost one in five of those polled, or 19 percent, believe the elections were fraudulent, at least partially. On the other hand, six out of ten people, or 59 percent, believe the results were valid. One out of five, or 22 percent, said they had no opinion, or did not agree that the results were fraudulent or valid.
Considering the sensitivity of the issue, and the official and unyielding position of the government, iPOS was quick to point out the possibility that some of the answers would be biased. “We cannot discount the possibility that some respondents could have been afraid and repeated the official position to protect themselves,” the polling group stated. “But also, we must not ignore the fact that the distance between those who do believe fraud was committed (19 percent) and those who do not (59 percent) is wide.”
The survey also asked whether people believed the public had a right to demonstrate in the streets, regardless of whether the respondent believed fraud had occurred or not.
Of those polled, 40 percent believed that people had no right to demonstrate in the streets, while almost the same percentage, 39 percent, believed they did. Around five percent conditionally supported the right to protest, but only in a manner approved by law. Around 12 percent had no opinion.
Those who believe that people had a right to street demonstrations (39 per cent) is just over twice the number of respondents who believe that fraud had been committed (19 percent). This shows that the high percentage of those who believe in the fairness of the elections (59 percent) cannot be totally attributed to fears of the government, because the government also believes that people did not have the right to take to the streets.
This is a summary of iPOS’ recent poll on the legacy of the Green Movement. The survey’s full results will be published next week.
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