Iran Prepares for Elections
On March 2, Iranians will have their first chance to vote since 2009 elections, which resulted in nation-wide protests and a sweeping wave of detentions. This round of elections Iranians will choose their representation in the 290-seat parliament. A large portion of Iran’s population “see it as a meaningless exercise” seeing as the regime prevents dissidents from standing in the election.
The number of registered candidates fell by nearly a third since this December. In order to register as a candidate, one must be “vetted by the interior ministry, controlled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Guardian Council, which oversees constitutional and electoral matters and is controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. According to The Economist, the council rejected nearly 40% of the 7,597 applicants. This year, the council has rejected 17% of the first-round applications. An estimated 3,444 applicants have been granted permission to run.
Rivalry between conservative camps is expected to be fierce. Relations between Mr. Ahmadinejad and Khameini “have been steadily deteriorating” much as has the economy, which according to the IMF has experienced a 22.5% inflation rate and unemployment around 15%. As a result of sanctions prices are increasing and the currency has depreciated significantly.
The Iranian leadership first aims to improve their legitimacy by assuming a tighter grip on the parliament. Boycotts, that have been made illegal, are expected to make for a “damagingly low” turnout.