Reader and EconTalk listener, Lance Wiggains writes in response to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's claim in this podcast  of about a year ago that the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, is perhaps only the 17th most important person in the Iranian pwer structure:
person in Iran, then why are so many Iranians upset about his
reelection? It seems like a blatant contridiction. I assume that so
many people would only be upset if he truly was important and powerful,
otherwise why expend the resources protesting.
It's a good question and Lance's email isn't the only one I've received wondering the same thing. I hope to get Bruce back on EconTalk in the near future, but the answer, I think, is in understanding the protests. My understanding is that Mousavi isn't radically different from Ahmadinejad. After all, Mousavi was approved as a candidate by the mullahs. It's not like he's promising a western democracy. I see the protests against the heavy-handedness of the mullahs in declaring a victory for Ahmadinejad before the ballots could have been counted. The protesters want liberalization. They were unlikely to get it had Mousavi won. They are fighting now not for Mousavi per se, but for some more freedom and less oppression. That's my reading. Hope to get Bruce's.