Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has mocked the US election as a "battleground for capitalists" while speaking at a democracy forum in Bali, Indonesia.
The Associated Press quoted the Iranian President as saying:
"Just take a look at the situation in Europe and the US. [An] election, which is one of the manifestations of the people's will, has become a battleground for the capitalists and an excuse for hasty spending."
Ahmadinejad is attending the two-day Bali Democracy Forum, attended by leaders including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and about 1,200 other delegates.
The Business Recorder cited experts as saying that an estimated $6 billion was spent on the US presidential and congressional elections.
The AP put the cost at $2 billion, but pointed out that even that constituted the most expensive poll in American history.
The Iranian president — whose own government has been criticized for human rights abuses — also used the forum to complain that democracy had become a system where the minority ruled over the majority.
However, other gathered leaders called for more democracy and freedoms around the world.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said mutual respect and diversity were foundations of democracy:
"We need to encourage greater respect for different values, faiths and religious beliefs. We should not allow irresponsible acts such as the defamation of religion to divide us."
However, Ahmadinejad has found an unlikely supporter in Canadian lawmaker Pat Martin, whom The Canadian Press quoted as saying:
"Big money has bastardized democracy in the United States."
Martin added that US democracy, where corporations are legally considered people and granted free speech rights, had become "a mere shadow," "an illusion," of democracy.
Fellow Canadian lawmaker John McKay has called the record campaign spending "obscene."