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Business News/ News / World/  Iran's elections today: Litmus test as Iranians head to vote for parliamentary polls
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Iran's elections today: Litmus test as Iranians head to vote for parliamentary polls

Iran's elections today: Iran's upcoming parliamentary elections have sparked protests and calls for boycotts following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody, resulting in widespread unrest and a security crackdown.

FILE PHOTO: Iranian men put campaign posters on a wall during the last day of election campaigning in Tehran, Iran, February 28, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS/File Photo (via REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: Iranian men put campaign posters on a wall during the last day of election campaigning in Tehran, Iran, February 28, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS/File Photo (via REUTERS)

Iran's elections today: In the midst of extensive protests spanning several years, Iranians are set to participate in voting on Friday to elect members of a fresh parliament from a roster of pre-approved candidates.

Additionally, they will cast their votes for the 88-member Assembly of Experts, a significant entity responsible for appointing the supreme leader.

Voters

In Iran, with approximately 87 million people, there are roughly 61 million eligible voters, all of whom must be at least 18 years old.

The ballot counting process is primarily manual, implying that the final election outcome might not be declared until three days following the voting day, although interim results could surface earlier.

Also Read: Why Iran attacked Pakistan, Syria and Iraq

As per Iran's constitution, five seats in parliament are specifically allocated for representatives of religious minority groups.

During the 2021 presidential election, which resulted in the victory of hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, the voter turnout stood at 49%, marking the lowest recorded turnout for a presidential vote. Millions of ballots were deemed invalid, presumably from individuals who felt compelled to vote but chose not to cast a ballot.

Similarly, in the 2019 parliamentary race, the turnout was recorded at 42%.

Political Parties

Iran does not possess a tradition of structured party membership or well-defined party agendas, with politics primarily organized along factional lines.

The reformist faction, marginalized from the country's political mainstream following disputes over the re-election of a hardline president in 2009, has refrained from endorsing any specific list of candidates for the parliamentary elections. 

Also Read: The Middle East faces economic chaos

The largest hardline faction, comprising former members of the elite Revolutionary Guards, their affiliated Basij militia, and other supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to maintain its dominance in parliament. This faction includes parties such as the Devotees and Path-seekers of the Islamic Revolution, the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability, the Islamic Coalition Party, and the Association of Combatant Clergy.

Where do women stand?

Parliamentary election in Iran is viewed as a significant assessment of the country's political climate. Among the candidates, there are 1,713 women, a notable increase from the 819 who ran in the previous election in 2020. The voting is scheduled for March 1, and the newly elected parliament

According to AFP, Afifeh Abedi, a reformist female candidate in Iran's upcoming legislative elections on Friday, aims to enhance the role of women in society and introduce a new perspective in a parliament primarily controlled by conservative men.

"Women are very active in society but hold a very small share of the power," the 44-year-old candidate told AFP ahead of a campaign event at a mosque in southern Tehran.

Candidate Afifeh Abedi arrives in a mosque for a campaign event in Abuzar, in southern Tehran, on February 26, 2024, ahead of next month's elections in Iran's 290-seat parliament. As Iran's legislative elections draws nearer, Abedi has stepped forward as a rare reformist woman voice to run for a seat in a parliament largely expected to be dominated by male conservatives. (Photo by Atta KENARE / AFP)
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Candidate Afifeh Abedi arrives in a mosque for a campaign event in Abuzar, in southern Tehran, on February 26, 2024, ahead of next month's elections in Iran's 290-seat parliament. As Iran's legislative elections draws nearer, Abedi has stepped forward as a rare reformist woman voice to run for a seat in a parliament largely expected to be dominated by male conservatives. (Photo by Atta KENARE / AFP) (AFP)

The current Iranian parliament, largely controlled by conservative factions, comprises just 16 female members, with four representing Tehran, the capital.

Out of approximately 15,200 candidates vying for parliamentary seats, only about 12% are women, as per statistics from the interior ministry.

Despite assurances from consecutive administrations, there has been only one instance where a woman held a position in the cabinet, which occurred in 2009.

Protests in Iran

Following the 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody, the Iranian parliament has shifted its focus towards addressing issues related to Iran's compulsory headscarf, or hijab, for women. Amini's death sparked widespread protests across the nation.

These protests swiftly evolved into demands for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical rulers. Subsequently, a security crackdown ensued, resulting in the deaths of over 500 individuals and the detention of more than 22,000 others.

In recent weeks, there has been a growing dissemination of calls to boycott the upcoming elections. Notably, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and imprisoned women's rights activist Narges Mohammadi has labelled the elections as a “sham" and has advocated for their boycott.

“The Islamic Republic, with its ruthless and brutal suppression, the killing of young people on the streets, the executions and the imprisonment and torture of men and women, deserves national sanctions and global disgrace," Mohammadi said in a statement.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mausam Jha
A journalist covering International Relations, and Business.
Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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Published: 01 Mar 2024, 09:38 AM IST
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