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Explaining Ahmadinejad

How did a hardliner defy expectations to win Iran's presidency?

By Michael Axworthy   August 2005

In mid-July, astronomers announced that they had unexpectedly found a new planet, in the constellation of Cygnus. Unexpected because conditions in the new planet’s solar system looked wrong for the formation of planets. “It shouldn’t be there,” said Patrick Moore.

This was rather like the reaction of Iran experts to the unexpected election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency at the end of June. The accepted wisdom had been that former president Hashemi Rafsanjani would win. Surely there must have been something wrong with the results? There was probably some intimidation of voters and some ballot boxes were…

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