A bizarre fact of modern life is that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a regular tweeter. Just before the presidential election on 14 June 2013, this message appeared on his Twitter page: “a vote for any of these candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic [and] a vote of confidence in the system.”

Believe it. He made the statement with assurance, knowing better than anyone that the forthcoming election was pretty much of a charade. No less than 39 men registered originally as candidates (the very idea of a woman putting herself forward as a potential president being outside the realms of the conceivable). Each was then subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the Guardian Council – the unelected but supremely powerful body positioned at the very heart of Iran’s body politic. The Guardian Council, which is able to veto any legislation passed by the Iranian parliament, is also empowered to bar candidates from standing in any election.

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