The surprising result in the recent Iranian elections shows that the establishment media, pundits and politicians can no longer take the people for granted, writes Letitia McQuade.
ACROSS THE WORLD election results continue to surprise.
The Iranian election, for those of you that haven't followed it, posted a rather interesting result — and one that almost no-one predicted. The comparatively moderate reformist Hassan Rouhani won in a virtual landslide, securing 50.71% of the vote in a field of six candidates, with his nearest rival only managing 16.56%. Turn out rates were high, with 72% of eligible voters turning up on the day.
Leading up to the election, Rouhani – rather like our Prime Minister Julia Gillard – was not an apparent favourite. With many reformist newspapers shut down, access to the internet and foreign broadcasters restricted and journalists being detained, the media environment surrounding Rouhani could only be described as hostile. Rouhani was given little support and no popular coverage, and was considered by many to not be a real contender.
So what happened?
How did the candidate deemed by the media and Iran's Guardian Council to be a non-starter manage to steal a surprise victory?
The answer is simple, really — people voted.
They looked at what was on offer and made a choice. It didn't matter that Iran's media and puppet masters had decided it should go another way. It didn't matter what the pre-election polls said. What counted was the vote on the day. And the results surprised everyone.
It seems the Iranian election results could have some rather salutary lessons for Australian voters disheartened by our seemingly lopsided media coverage.
We all know Chairman Rupert wants Tony in the Lodge, but how realistic is it to think that the mainstream media can force a result in this day and age? There's a lot more information out there than what we are spoon fed on the nightly news and much to the displeasure of Limited News, people are actively seeking alternative sources. It seems we live in a new world, where people pay more attention to stories shared on social media than to banner screaming headlines from on high.
If there is lesson for mainstream media in the Iranian election – and in last year's U.S. election – it is that your influence is not what it once was. Your power is on the wane.
If there is a lesson for Australian politicians, it is that you can take nothing for granted. People all over the world are voting against the predictions of the polls and the media, and the Australian people will have their say in September.
Who knows, we may also be surprised by our results.