On February 26, 2016 millions of Iranians went to the ballot boxes to elect their candidates for the country’s parliament and the Assembly of Experts.
The timing of the elections was especially important. They came only months after the Rouhani government’s landmark deal with the Western superpowers that settled a long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
The contest between the Principlists, Reformists and independent candidates vying for the seats in the country’s legislative body made it all more intense. Of the 12,123 individuals who had registered their names to run for parliament, only around 6,300 managed to win the approval of the powerful Guardian Council. And of the 801 who put their names down for the Assembly of Experts election, 161 were qualified.
Statistics say of the around 55 million eligible voters, more than 32 million, that’s around 60 percent of them, turned out to cast their ballots. Since political parties per se don’t carry much weight in any elections in Iran, what they do is to draw up a list of their candidates and introduce their political stripes to the voters.
In Tehran, the Principlists and Reformists each came up with a list of 30 candidates. The reformist list won the majority of the votes in the capital city, denying the rival Principlists all the 30 seats allocated to the Tehran constituency but so far the mix shows something around 60% of seats having gone to Principlists already, 40% reformist and moderates and 20% independents.
Speculation is rife about who will take over as the next parliament speaker. The current speaker, Ali Larijani, has managed to keep his seat in parliament a runner-up from Qom. Although a Principlist, he didn’t appear on the Principlists’ list. On the other hand, Mohammadreza Aref, who’s on top of the reformist list, has mustered the biggest number of votes nationally and is said to be very likely to replace Larijani.
Simultaneously with the parliamentary poll was another one for electing members of the Assembly of Experts. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani won the majority of the votes in Tehran while Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the incumbent head of the assembly of experts, and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a prominent Principlist and a sitting member of the assembly, failed to garner enough votes to keep their positions.
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