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Election time in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Election time in the Islamic Republic of Iran


The Islamic Republic of Iran is due to hold parallel elections on February 26, 2016.

Seats in the parliament and the Assembly of Experts are up for grabs.

The 10th Parliamentary Election since the 1979 Revolution

The National Assembly ratifies law and international treaties it delivers a vote of confidence on ministers and monitors the correct functioning of the government.


Those who wish to participate as a candidate registers with the Interior Ministry.

The suitability of each candidate is then reviewed.

This year 12,000 have registered. The Ministry of the Interior approved 90 percent of the candidates.

Members of the Guardian Council then analyse the loyalty to the regime of the prospective candidates. After a long drawn out nomination process 51 percent of prospective candidates have been accepted by the Council of Guardians.

The Council of Guardians is comprised of six members of the Shi’ite clergy and six lay lawyers.

As a result 6,229 individuals, including 586 women will take part.

Campaign Issues

The official campaign begins on February 18, which leaves the candidates just one week to try to persuade voters.

The candidates who garner 25 percent of the vote are elected after the first round.

The main battleground in 2016 will be between the pro-Rohani candidates and the Conservatives.

There are three main political guidelines within the Islamic Republic. The Reformists, Moderates and Conservatives they form “electoral fronts” and then present lists for each constituency.

The Reformists and pro-Rohani moderates support the nuclear deal and the improved economic conditions to come following the lifting of sanctions.

The Conservatives blame the economic stagnation of Iran on the failed policies of President Rohani.

They praise the work of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in maintaining Iran’s position as a major regional power.

The Iranian Assembly of Experts

The Assembly of Experts is made up of 88 senior clerics. These mujtahids must appoint the Supreme Leader and ensure the succession.

The assembly has only performed this duty once following the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 and the subsequent appointment of his successor Ali Khamenei.

The Assembly of Experts is a directly elected body, which serves and eight year term.


This is the fifth election of its type and 801 clerics are involved. The Guardian Council rejected all but 166 candidates.

The major controversy is the unsuitability of the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, Hassan Khomeini, whose decision to run for the Assembly of Experts was rejected by the Guardian Council.

The main confrontation for the Assembly of Experts is between the clerics close to the pragmatic Hashemi Rafsanjani and the conservative Ayatollahs.

The Supreme Leader

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Iran’s highest political and religious authority.

He has either direct or indirect control over the executive, legislative and judicial government branches along with the military and media.

Although the president is elected he must be approved by the Supreme Leader.

His role includes.

-The appointment of the chief of staff of the armed forces.

-The head of the judiciary

-The director of Radio and Television for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

-The appointment of six members of the Guardian Council, of which there are 12.

-The appointment of the Discernment Council.

He has the power to:
-Initiate major domestic and international policies.

-To remove the president.

-To pardon prisoners.

-To declare war or call for peace.

-To issue decrees on referendums.

TV and Radio

IRIB, the Iranian public broadcaster, is a huge state run organisation and holds the exclusive broadcast rights in the country.

IRIB, with tens of thousands of employees and dozens of TV and Radio channels, is one of the largest media groups in the Asia/Pacific region.

Judicial System

The judiciary is constitutionally independent.

However the head is appointed by and accountable to the Supreme Leader.

The body is responsible for enforcing Islamic law.

The Minister of Justice is appointed by the president.

Discernment Council

This is an administrative body to find solutions to disagreements between parliament and the Guardian Council.

The council acts as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader.

Armed Forces

Iran’s armed forces are made up of the regular army and the Revolutionary Guard both under joint command.

The Supreme Leader is commander-in-chief and makes all senior appointments.

The Revolutionary Guard has a presence in economic matters and espionage/intelligence. The organisation also runs the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary volunteer group with branches across the country.

The President

The president is the head of government and the highest elected post in Iran.

It is an administrative position with only partial influence over foreign policy, the military and national security.

The position is held for a four-year term, with a maximum of two terms permitted.

The president selects the cabinet, which must be approved by parliament.

Friday Prayers

Imams celebrate Friday prayers with the faithful across the country.

These individuals are appointed by the Supreme Leader or the secretariat of Imams.

The Guardian Council

The council approves all legislation passed by parliament and holds the power of veto.

It is responsible for approving presidential, parliamentary and Assembly of Experts candidates.

The Assembly of Experts

The body of senior clerics is elected every eight years.

The assembly monitors the Supreme Leader and can request he stands down if he is unable to perform his duties correctly.

This is an unlikely scenario.

The group meets every six-months in a mainly ceremonial gathering.

The Parliament

Members of parliament are elected every four years by direct popular vote. The candidates must be vetted by the powerful Guardian Council. Ironically, half of the council members must be approved by the parliament.

Members of parliament propose and pass legislation to be approved by the Guardian Council.

Members can summon or impeach ministers or the president. The ministers have to be approved by members of parliament through confidence votes.

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