Posted on April 27, 2016
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What You Need To Know: Iran elections
Iranians will vote on February 26 for members of the country’s next parliament as well as its Assembly of Experts.
The parliament, also known as the Majlis, is Iran’s 290-member legislative body. Women and religious minorities are eligible as candidates.
The Assembly’s 88 members elect the Supreme Leader, which is critical because the current leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamani, is 77 years old and has already undergone cancer surgery. Women and religious minorities, including Sunnis, are de facto ineligible for election. For an analysis from the Washington Institute of Near East Policy of the Assembly’s weaknesses and how these could preclude a more moderate choice for Supreme Leader, click here.
The 12-member Guardian Council, half of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader, initially purged almost 60% of the candidates from the upcoming elections, many of whom represented dissenting political groups. Now, it appears that the decision to disqualify 1500 of these candidates may be reversed. Ironically, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni, the original Supreme Leader who helped to inspire the Iranian Revolution in 1979, was one of those disqualified as a candidate for the Assembly, in part because of the perception that he is too moderate in his views.
Some pundits see this election as a virtual referendum on the JCPOA: will the reformers who support the deal and the policies of President Hassan Rouhani expand their numbers, or will the hardliners aligned with Khamani, who oppose the deal and, by extension, an Iran that is more open to the West, retain control?
Those in this country and elsewhere who opposed the JCPOA point to the lack of free and fair elections in Iran as one of the many reasons not to trust the country and its leaders; others cite Iran’s poor record on human rights and its destabilizing activities in the region.
For more information on Iranian elections, see these links:
For CNN’s summary, click here.
For the Brooking’s Institute’s analysis of parliamentary elections, click here.
For the Brooking’s Institute’s analysis of elections for the Assembly of Experts, click here.
For the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s analysis on the Assembly elections, click here.