Elections in Iran: 5 things to know

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iranians are voting Friday in the country's first elections since the Islamic Republic sealed a landmark deal with the United States and other world powers over its disputed nuclear program last year.

See Full Article

It is also the first nationwide vote since moderate President Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013 by promising to boost the economy, improve ties with the outside world and ease social restrictions at home.

Here is a look at some of the main issues surrounding the vote:

Elections in Iran?

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 that toppled the U.S.-backed shah led to the creation of what is known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the name suggests, the government has both theocratic and democratic elements.

The official with the most power in Iran is a senior Shiite cleric known as the supreme leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei currently holds that post -- only the second person to do so -- and his position will not be directly affected by Friday's vote. Iran's president and members of parliament are directly elected, as are members of an assembly that selects the supreme leader.

Not everyone who wants to run for office can, however. All candidates must be vetted and approved by the unelected Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog dominated by hard-liners and made up of clerics chosen by the supreme leader and Islamic jurists.

What are Iranians voting for?

Voters are casting ballots for representatives in two separate government bodies. One is the parliament, known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly. The other is the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body tasked with choosing the country's next supreme leader following the death of a current one.

The 290-seat parliament has limited legislative powers, and the bills it drafts are subject to review by the Guardian Council. The parliament has some oversight over the budget and public spending, and a say in the approval and questioning of government ministers.

The current parliament is dominated by conservatives who are wary of Rouhani's outreach to the West and his calls for less restrictive policies at home.

Gains for Rouhani's supporters in this balloting -- even if they fail to win a majority in parliament -- could limit hard-liners' influence over the house and increase the likelihood that the president could deliver on some of his legislative priorities. The outcome of the vote will also point to levels of support for Iran's various political factions ahead of next year's presidential election, when Rouhani is expected to seek a second term.

Why does the Assembly of Experts matter?

The 88-seat Assembly of Experts is officially charged with selecting the replacement for the supreme leader from among its members. The assembly is elected every eight years and there is a reasonable chance it could be called upon to select a successor during its next term.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, is 76 years old. He underwent prostate surgery in 2014, renewing speculation about his health.

Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an assembly member, broke a taboo on speaking about the supreme leader's successor in December when he said that a committee within the assembly has begun putting together a list of possible successors to Khamenei.

Assembly members must be senior clerics and like parliamentary candidates, they must be approved by the Guardian Council.

What are the main blocs?

Iran has dozens of political groupings and organizations, but no major, longstanding parties like in the West. Broadly speaking, the election is a showdown between hard-liners in one camp, and relative moderates supporting Rouhani and reformists on the other. There are also independent conservatives not aligned with either bloc.

Candidates across the board are putting an emphasis on improving the economy, which is hampered by a slump in oil prices, inflation and high unemployment. Rouhani's success in getting crippling international sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program lifted after years of negotiations is likely to boost moderate candidates.

But those seeking further reform face an uphill battle. Many reformist candidates were blocked from participating in the elections, and two opposition leaders who ran for president in the disputed 2009 election remain under house arrest. Other reformist activists are behind bars.

Candidates of various stripes also face a challenge in standing out from the pack in some constituencies. More than 1,000 candidates are competing for just 30 seats in Tehran alone.

Who gets to run?

Only about 6,200 candidates out of the more than 12,000 who had sought to run were allowed to do so. The Guardian Council disqualified many for being seen as insufficiently loyal to the ruling system.

Candidates across Iran's political spectrum were disqualified, but reformists were hit particularly hard. Initially, only 30 of the 3,000 would-be reformist candidates for parliament were approved, according to nine reformist parties.

Later, the council reversed the disqualifications of around 1,500, including some reformists. In the end, around 200 reformists have been allowed into the race.

Among those disqualified from running for the Assembly of Experts was Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Observers see the bans as a way for hard-liners to limit the power of more reform-minded candidates as Rouhani looks to cash in on the optimism and promise of a stronger economy now that nuclear sanctions have been lifted.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Edmonton Liberian community mourns 3 killed in collision with stolen truck

    Canada News CTV News
    Family, friends and members of Edmonton’s Liberian community are mourning the deaths of three women who were killed in a collision that involved a stolen truck. Jeannette Wright, Glorious Decontee David, Eva Fatu Tumbay and Janet Wright Gaye were on a road trip to visit family and friends in Minnesota when their minivan was struck around 3 a.m. Source
  • RCMP called off chase of stolen truck before 3 killed in crash near Alberta-Sask. border

    Canada News CBC News
    RCMP in Saskatchewan say it called off the police pursuit of a stolen truck that ended up colliding with a minivan and killing three women from Edmonton. On Thursday morning, officers in Maidstone, Sask. Source
  • Prince of the city

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Step aside, John Tory. The real prince of this town has red hair and a cheeky smile. Prince Harry — in Toronto for his Invictus Games — charmed, dazzled, joked, empathized, hugged children, petted dogs and truly lived up to his title as the People’s Prince. Source
  • Iran tests ballistic missile and 'we won't ask anyone's permission'

    World News CBC News
    Iran said on Saturday it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres and would keep developing its arsenal despite U.S. pressure to stop. The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Source
  • Ugo Fredette now in Saint-Jérôme detention centre, police say

    Canada News CBC News
    Ugo Fredette is now in a detention centre in Saint-Jérôme after spending nearly a week in two Ontario hospitals and a Quebec hospital, after he was arrested last week in connection with an Amber Alert case. Source
  • Damage in Puerto Rico strains relief efforts by agencies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Federal agencies grappled Saturday with the vast scale of the disaster in Puerto Rico left by Hurricane Maria, the third major storm to strike the U.S. in less than a month. Three days after the massive hurricane crossed the U.S. Source
  • Trump, Kim insults are the latest in a long - often more cutting - line of political put-downs

    World News Toronto Sun
    North Korea’s florid insults and President Donald Trump’s schoolyard ripostes are but the latest in a long tradition of political and diplomatic put-downs. And they are far from the most cutting. Pyongyang has arguably done better (or worse, depending on point of view). Source
  • Mounties make deal to transfer Louis Riel items to future Metis facility

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Three items, including a crucifix, that belonged to North-West Rebellion leader Louis Riel, which have been held by the RCMP for decades, will soon return to Metis possession. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau and Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday that will see the items transferred to a Metis heritage centre in Winnipeg, once it is built. Source
  • Man shot by Winnipeg police dies, officer remains in unstable condition

    Canada News CBC News
    A 33-year-old man who was shot by police after allegedly stabbing an officer in the upper body has died, Winnipeg police said late Saturday night. The injured Winnipeg officer is a member of the police tactical unit and is 35 years old. Source
  • Montrealers rally in solidarity with Catalan independence movement

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- More than 150 people gathered in front of Montreal's Spanish consulate Saturday to express their solidarity with the Catalan independence movement. Organizers also denounced what they describe as the Canadian government's timid response to the intensifying Spanish crackdown ahead of a planned Oct. Source