Before yesterday’s election in Iran, I don’t think anyone knew what was going to happen. But the overwhelming consensus was that it was going to be a close race and that heavy turnout would favor the challenger, Moussavi. Then we saw record turnout and Ahmadenijad proclaimed the winner by an enormous 62-37 margin, prompting protests of fraud.
Stealing an election strikes me as a dangerous game for the Iranian regime. The democracy-like portion of the Iranian political system is pretty locked down on the key issues, and the clerical establishment has survived the election of a reformist president in the past. Outright theft of an election seems to force moderate reformist to publicly call the underlying legitimacy of the system into question.