The Unbearable Stupidity of Authoritarianism
Perhaps it comes with the psychological territory: ruling with an iron fist and stealing with a prestidigitator's dexterity may not go, as it were, hand in hand. Requiring absolute obedience while permitting a mocked-up 48 percent opposition vote may trigger a level of internal emotional conflict that's impossible for someone of a coercive temperament to reconcile.
And I suppose in a way we should be grateful. At least, given their political klutziness, we don't merely suspect the worst, we're able to know it with absolute certainty. Iran is not a republic, not even a republic with an Islamic slant; Zimbabwe's parliamentary system is a sham; and the United States has not succeeded in introducing democracy, even democracy of an attenuated, tribal nature, into Afghanistan.
Had Hamid Karzai choreographed himself into a run-off, and had he then arranged to win that run-off decisively but not quite overwhelmingly, we'd all be wasting our time debating the legitimacy of the election and the resultant regime. But instead, it's like an old cowboy movie. You can always tell who the bad guys are. They wear their black hats on their sleeve.
Photo Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/2296464253, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffmcneill/3629090335