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

  • Self-driving Uber vehicle hit in Arizona crash

    World News CBC News
    Officials say a self-driving Uber SUV was operating on its own when it was struck by another vehicle making a left turn at an intersection in Arizona, where the company is testing autonomous vehicles. No one was seriously injured. Source
  • Parks Canada re-opens beach on Vancouver Island after wolf attack last week

    Canada News CTV News
    UCLUELET, B.C. -- A popular section of a national park on Vancouver Island that was closed following a wolf attack last week has re-opened. Parks Canada says Wickaninnish Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is accessible to the public once again after being closed off for two days. Source
  • East African bloc: Members to allow Somali refugees to work

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- East Africa's regional bloc said Saturday it gradually will allow the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees sheltering in its countries to work and will include them in planning efforts. It is a step forward for nations like Kenya, which hosts the world's largest refugee camp and where refugees are not allowed to work, but it's not enough, said an Amnesty International expert on refugees, Victor Nyamori. Source
  • Vehicle attacks: Easy success for ISIS, a challenge for police

    World News CTV News
    BASEL, Switzerland -- In the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group became infamous for its spectacular variations on explosive vehicles. For attacks in the West, it has suggested a simpler method, encouraging followers to use regular vehicles to kill people on foot. Source
  • Idaho woman says she crashed car because she saw a sasquatch

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW, Idaho -- A northern Idaho woman told police she crashed into a deer because she was distracted by a sasquatch in her rearview mirror. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that the 50-year-old Tensed woman was driving south on U.S. Source
  • Trump Tower resident fined for renting out apartment on Airbnb

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A woman who owns an apartment at Trump Tower is being fined $1,000 by the city after they say she wrongly rented it out on Airbnb. According to an affidavit and summons, Yelena Yelagina owns apartment 30H at 721 Fifth Avenue. Source
  • Belarus police arrest more than 400 protesters; many are beaten

    World News CBC News
    A human rights group said more than 400 people were arrested and many were beaten as police in Belarus cracked down hard Saturday on protesters who tried to hold a forbidden demonstration in the capital, Minsk. Source
  • Deadly Mosul airstrikes were at the request of Iraq: U.S. command

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- An initial review of airstrikes over the past days indicates that the U.S.-led coalition has struck fighters and equipment of the Islamic State group west of the northern city of Mosul at the request of Iraqi security forces, where there were allegations of civilian casualties, the Pentagon said Saturday. Source
  • Erdogan: Turkey might hold referendum on EU membership

    World News CTV News
    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Britain's Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, shake hands before a meeting in Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP) Source
  • Halifax man charged for assaulting distracted walker who was texting: police

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A Halifax man has been charged with assault after police say he became enraged by a fellow pedestrian distracted by her cellphone. Halifax Regional Police say the man punched the woman to the ground Friday afternoon after she almost bumped into him while she was texting. Source