We get this question a lot… I like to remind people that Iran has had a number of revolutions and a war and that everyone I met in Iran knew someone personally who had died in any one of them. There’s kind of a revolution wariness in Iran right now. People want change, evolution: that’s without the R people!
What is interesting to me, is that the government in Iran seems bent on presenting Iran as country filled with maniacs, fanatics, and mindless followers when this is not the case. No, I believe that the current government of Iran would like the world to be afraid of it and its population. The idea that Iranians might be moderate, as most seem to be, is anathema to the current power structure.
That is why polltakers are dispersed by the police or worse -- as in the case of Abbas Abdi who was commissioned to poll his fellow Iranians on their opinions about the US -- arrested.
In order to remain in power, an unpopular government needs to do several things:
1. It needs to bare its teeth every once in awhile as in the case of the crackdown on hejab.
2. It needs an exhausted population too busy solving day-to-day problems to act on their desires for reform
3. Most importantly, it needs a population unaware of the true feelings of their neighbors.
So, hmm, did it surprise me that 79% of the population supports direct election of all leaders as is reported in the report by Terror Free Tomorrow? A bit… but did it surprise me that the survey showed an overall moderate bent to the responders? Not at all.