American election a 'capitalist battleground' – Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad claimed that American elections have turned into “battlegrounds for capitalists” and “excuses for hefty spending,” referring to the estimated $6 billion campaign bill for US presidential and congressional elections in a Thursday speech at the Fifth Bali Democracy Forum.During the American presidential race only, more than $2 billion were raised and spent, making it the most expensive election in the country's history.With hundreds of millions dollars contributed by corporations and the wealthy, the exceptionally costly campaign has provoked concerns and criticism not just from Tehran but even from as close as Canada.“Big money has bastardized democracy in the United States,” Canadian MP Pat Martin said, as quoted by The Canadian Press. Martin went as far as saying that the US democracy, where corporations are legally considered people and granted free speech rights, has become “a mere shadow,” “an illusion,” of democracy.Meanwhile, Canadian MP John McKay called the record campaign spending “obscene.”While Ahmadinejad voiced concerns that many might share, he also came down on Western-style democracy, calling it “the rule of a minority over the majority.”This comes on the heels of the recent UN Human Rights report on freedom of speech suppression in Iran, which Tehran dismissed as “unfair and biased.”Ever since the 2009 Iranian election, which was perceived as rigged by the Iranian opposition, President Ahmadinejad has been under constant pressure from the West, including not only economic sanctions but harsh rhetoric as well.Now that the US election is raising transparency questions, Ahmadinejad has had a chance to strike back. Referring to international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad asserted that the era of nuclear weapons “is over” and regarded to those still stockpiling them as “mentally retarded.”“The Iranian nation is not seeking an atomic bomb, nor do they need to build an atomic bomb. For defending ourselves we do not need a nuclear weapon,” Iran’s president told reporters at the Bali Forum.Despite criticism, Ahmadinejad still hopes to make friends for Iran amidst Western-imposed isolation, attending the Democracy Forum for the first time in five years.