Wednesday, July 24, 2024

An Israeli helicopter struck a festival in the Gaza Strip on October 7, injuring scores of people

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Gaza war casts shadow over preparations for Iran…parliamentary elections

The war between Israel and Hamas has drawn much attention in politics and local media, leaving limited campaign space for parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2024 in which conservatives will seek to tighten their grip on power.

Of the 24,982 applicants, 28 per cent of them were excluded in the initial screening stage overseen by the Home Ministry-affiliated Elections Commission, officials announced last week.

The number of candidates contesting on March 1, 2024 cannot be predicted, a month before the election date, before the lists are finalized to renew the 209 seats in Parliament and 88 seats in the Council of Experts. .

Fears

With ongoing preparations, Iranians are reeling from mounting economic woes and the aftermath of the massive protest movement that rocked the country in September 2022 following the death of young woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran. Reason for wearing bad hijab.

Political analyst Ahmad Zeytabadi expects voters to continue to stay away from the ballot box if “the (Islamic Republic’s) political system cannot provide them with hope and motives for change.”

Among the growing concerns among Iranians are the devastating impact of the war on the Gaza Strip and the possibility of Tehran becoming involved in a war between Israel and Hamas whose scope could expand beyond the Gaza Strip.

Zaytabadi felt that the development of the war between Israel and Hamas could affect the results of the parliamentary elections, as the Iranian-backed Islamist opposition movement “Hamas” “would weaken the position of the supporters of the government if it happened”.

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“Exciting” elections

Elections are due next year since nationwide protests hit Iran following Amini’s death in September 2022.

Conservatives dominate the current Iranian parliament, as a number of reformist and moderate candidates were kicked out in the last session in 2020.

The widespread and controversial exclusion of these candidates was attributed to the decline in electoral participation, as only 42.57 percent of voters went to the polls across the country.

One in four Iranians took part in the capital Tehran, the largest electoral district, with the participation rate reaching 26 percent, the lowest rate recorded since the 1979 revolution.

On Thursday, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for all necessary efforts to ensure “spirited elections” next March. This happened during his meeting with members of the Guardian Council, which has the power to determine the eligibility of candidates for election.

For his part, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi confirmed that his government has “no candidate” for the parliamentary elections and is “only trying to encourage increased participation” with the participation of “all political elements”.

For their part, reformers fear a repeat of the situation in 2020, when many of their candidates were excluded from running in the battle after many of them were kicked out in the primary.

The reformist newspaper “Hum Mihin” wrote that figures of this political movement realized that the 12-member Guardian Council realized that “even if reformists were known, only a few of them would be approved”. Six of them elect the president of Iran, and six are named by the chief justice, who is appointed by the supreme leader.

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People close to the reform movement said before the annulment of Ibrahim Raisi’s candidacy in the 2021 presidential election, the likes of former parliament speaker Ali Larijani decided not to enter the race.

In May, Larijani accused a “movement” of leading a campaign to “cleanse” the political space by eliminating all opponents.

Reports from Iran indicate that “committees” for the upcoming elections attached to the Interior Ministry have so far “imposed” nomination demands on at least 25 members of the current parliament, including four female representatives.

Some Iranian newspapers reported that the majority of those excluded were representatives critical of the government.

Outgoing reformer MP Masoud Besheshkian, known for criticizing the authorities, described the decision to invalidate his candidacy as “ridiculous” by those “who are trying to get rid of the people by ignoring them”.

Divisions

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi rejected the criticism, which he described as “immoral”, insisting the government had “nothing to do” with the exclusion of candidates.

In the absence of an influential moderate camp, legislative debates are currently marred by “divisions between conservatives, particularly between pragmatists and radicals who enjoy great influence within the government.”

Disagreements also arose over the basis of the law, which penalized women who did not observe the mandatory hijab, whose numbers increased significantly after the 2022 protests. Parliament officially adopted the text in September, but it has yet to come into effect. Because it requires the approval of the Guardian Council.

On March 1, 2024, Iranians will also vote to elect an 88-member Leadership Council of Experts responsible for appointing the Iranian president, overseeing his work, and removing him.

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More than 300 candidates have registered to contest. Among the candidates for a new term in the council are its vice president, President Ibrahim Raisi, and his more moderate predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, who he said after his nomination would “walk a difficult and steep path.”

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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