Iran's high stakes electionComments
An election campaign stares out at Iranians but the posters are limited by law in size. There are no street meetings, no television spots ahead of the ballot and officially the social networks are silent.
For Iranian voters this is a short campaign despite the importance given to these parliamentary elections and the official calls to get out and vote.
The reformists who boycotted the legislative in 2012 and so were marginalized in parliament are back and want to overturn the majority in Parliament where the Conservatives are dominant.
But for that they need to break the apathy of so many voters especially so because of the number of candidates.
Many including prominent figures were rejected by the hardline Guardian Council. Candidates must first register and then be approved by the watchdog before they can go forward and run for parliament.
Around 12,000 candidates registered for these elections but only 51 percent gained approval from the Guardian Council.
“Six thousand one hundred and seventy five candidates are qualified to run in these parliamentary elections and 5,259 others were either unable to meet the requirements to run or were disqualified,” said Hosseinali Amiri, Iranian Deputy Interior Minister.
There are 290 seats up for grabs in the Iranian Parliament of which five are reserved for religious minorities. Of the six thousand one hundred and seventy five candidates 586 are women.
The Iranian Parliament does not have authority in foreign affairs but it does play a major role in matters of the country’s economy and it is essential it has a majority ahead of the presidential elections in 2017.
The Iranians also have the Assembly of Experts which is composed of 88 seats. The candidates for the election are all men. The main task of this body is to choose Iran’s supreme leader the highest military and judicial authority in the country.
Members – mostly made up of elderly clerics – are elected for an eight year term. This election takes on a special significance because of the ailing health of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is 76.
The Assembly is likely to pick his successor charting the course for the country for many years.
These elections will also be seen as a litmus test for the popularity of moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s policies, his openess to the West following the lifting of sanctions after the agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Both the president and the supreme leader have appealed for a big turnout.