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Could it be that the 'Persian Spring,' manifested by the anti-hard-line vote this week in which over 60 percent of Iran's eligible electorate went to the polls, has a better chance to succeed than the Arab Spring? Unlike the brittle autocracies in most of the Arab world that shattered when challenged, Iran has a robust civil society combined with quasi-democratic institutions put in place after the revolution in 1979 that seemingly enable the country to evolve instead of explode. And Iranians are intent on making their own changes without the outside interventions that have roiled the broader Mideast region in recent years. (continued)
Once again the Iranian people used the limited available democratic process, combined with unconventional tools and creative methods, to take another step towards political change. A slow process that started with the election of President Khatami and the birth of the reform movement in the 1990s continued through the 2009 election and post-election resistance, re-emerged in the 2013 election of moderate President Rouhani and again showed up in the two important elections last week. Iranians have been on a slow path to democracy and continue to progress -- with patience and with hope.
The message of these elections to global powers is that they should approach Iran with respect rather than with threats and drop anti-Iranian rhetoric. Iranians who went to the voting booths have a palpable sense of the indifference of the West to the existence of democracy and elections in Iran. They know that any claims by the West to respect public participation in Iran loses its credibility, because they see that Western allies in the region have zero democracy.