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Turnout in the elections for the new Parliament and the Council of Experts of the Islamic Republic was again at a record low: Of the 61 million voters, fewer than 25 million went to the polls

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “The country's economy has been set back a decade.”

In Iran, after all ballots were manually processed, the results of the country’s past elections for a new Majlis (Parliament), as well as the Council of Experts, the theological body that elects Iran’s supreme leader, were officially announced on March 5.

As expected, the absolute majority of seats in both legislative bodies in Iran were won by conservatives. Nevertheless, the victory of the conservative forces cannot be considered an expression of the will of the entire Iranian people, as the turnout reached a historic low since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Appeals to voters to “show responsibility, activity, and civic awareness” had little effect on the enthusiasm of the population. The turnout at the polls on March 1 was even lower than in the elections four years ago. Iranian Interior Ministry head Ahmad Vahidi was forced to admit that “the electoral turnout was 41%, with 25 million voters taking part in the elections,” while a total of 61 million voters are registered in the country.

Along with the parliamentary elections, Iranians elected the so-called Council of Experts, a government body that includes 88 Islamic theologians. The Council of Experts oversees the Iranian Constitution, adopted after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and selects Iran’s supreme spiritual leader, who sits at the top of the pyramid of power, above the country’s president.

In the run-up to the elections, everything was done to prevent the participation of the liberal opposition, including former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration on November 24, 2013 signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or “nuclear agreement” with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France (permanent members of the UN Security Council), plus Germany. After that, some of the anti-Iran sanctions were lifted, and there was some easing of tensions in Tehran’s relations with the West.

The Iranian reformist camp was dealt a blow by former US President Donald Trump, who unilaterally announced the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear agreement with Iran on May 8, 2018 and proclaimed a course of hard confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

As a result of this course change on the part of the White House, Iranian liberals lost much of their electoral support and ceded the leadership to conservatives, who immediately declared the previous reform policies “erroneous.” This change of course resulted in the confident victory of Ebrahim Raisi of the conservative forces in the 2021 presidential elections.

The main task of the authorities within the framework of the escalating tensions in the Middle East should now be to solve the growing socio-economic problems and ensure the country’s security in the conflict with the West. The sanctions reimposed by the US against Iran during the Trump administration have seriously undermined the foundations of the Iranian economy. Iran’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was forced to make the unprecedented statement that “the country’s economy has been set back a decade.” According to some reports, not confirmed by official Iranian sources, of course, 22% of the working-age population is unemployed, 60% of Iranians live below the poverty line, and the inflation rate has reached 50% in 2023.

The newly elected deputies in the 290-seat Iranian Majlis (Parliament) will have to deal with all these pressing issues. According to Iran’s Central Election Headquarters, 245 lawmakers have been elected to Parliament in the first round of voting. Another 45 mandates will be distributed in a second round of voting, but it is already clear that the new Islamic Republic’s top legislature will once again be dominated by conservatives, who won in all of Iran’s provinces, including the capital Tehran.

As in the parliamentary elections, the vote on the theologians’ nominees to the Council of Experts showed the overwhelming influence of the Conservatives. It did not include a single representative of the reformist forces, and the ultra-conservative Shiite theologians Seyyed Ahmad Hosseini, Mohsen Qomi, and Alireza Arafi received the most votes.

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

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