Iran’s voter turnout was lowest since 1979

Only 41 percent of eligible voters took part and, as expected, the Conservatives won, also because most progressive candidates had been excluded

On Monday, the results of the parliamentary elections held in Iran last Friday were published: as expected, most of the seats went to the ultra-conservatives, that is, the political current that includes both President Ebrahim Raisi and Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, the most important political and religious office of the country.

However, the most important data concerns abstinence: voter turnout was 41 percent, the lowest since the 1979 revolution. In the last parliamentary elections in 2020 it was 42 percent. Given the control that the ultra-conservative regime exercises over the entire electoral process, Iran's elections cannot be defined as either free or democratic: abstention largely depends on the people who have decided not to vote in protest against the regime . In addition, low voter turnout could become a problem for the Iranian regime, which has based part of its legitimacy on voter turnout since 1979.

– Also read: The revolution that changed Iran

Friday's elections voted to renew the 290 seats in the national parliament. According to an analysis by the Associated Press news agency, 245 deputies were elected in the first round, 200 of whom were supported by the ultra-conservatives. The remaining 45 seats will be awarded in a runoff election between April and May. Friday's elections also included a vote on the election of the 88 members of the Council of Experts, the body responsible for, among other things, electing the Supreme Leader.

The result of the elections was clear, also because, as on other occasions, almost all progressive candidates were excluded. In Iran, before every election, all candidates must be vetted and approved by the Guardian Council, a body that evaluates and selects candidates. The council consists of 12 members, six religious and six lawyers, all of whom are very close to the ultra-conservatives and therefore Khamenei (the religious are appointed directly by Khamenei, the lawyers indirectly). This year the council disqualified more than 12,000 candidates in general elections.

This is nothing new: since the 1990s, the Guardian Council has exercised very strict control over nominations, ensuring that power remains in the hands of the most conservative faction.

In addition, this year the names of the candidates were announced less than two weeks before the elections and the campaign lasted only ten days, further discouraging part of the electorate.

– Also read: The vote took place in Iran, but without reformist candidates

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