58 million people out of a total of over 83 million called to the polls. Over 7 thousand candidates are competing for the 290 Majlis seats. Most are an expression of the conservative and radical faction. Moderates and reformists rejected because accused of corruption or unfaithfulness to Islam. Khamenei and Rouhani urge participation.
Tehran (AsiaNews) - The election campaign has started in Iran and will end on February 21st with the parliamentary elections, a key step to verify the weight of the various components - conservatives, moderates and reformists - in the Majlis. More than 7 thousand candidates are competing for one of the 290 seats that make up the Islamic Consultative Assembly; for experts, the real struggle is between the hard and radical wing of the country and the conservatives, because most of the moderate and reformist candidates have not been admitted to the election.
About 58 million voters out of a total of over 83 million inhabitants will be called to express their preference. The reasons given to justify the rejection of such a large number of candidates include generic accusations of "corruption" or "infidelity to Islam".
Analysts and experts point out that the vote constitutes a test for President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who is trying to keep his promises of growth despite the unfavorable international framework. The elections come in a context of strong international tensions and internal economic difficulties: from the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) to the introduction of sanctions, from the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani to Tehran's reprisal with the subsequent shooting down of the Ukrainian plane, many knots are still unsolved.
The danger for the Iranian leader is represented by abstention, in a context in which candidates close to the fundamentalist religious establishment prevail.
Rouhani has launched repeated appeals aimed at electoral participation. He then strongly criticized the Council of Guardians of the Constitution - a constitutional body called to evaluate the candidates' suitability - for rejecting thousands of names (in the moderate and reformist camp), including 90 parliamentarians currently in office.
Marking 41 years of the Islamic Revolution, the president urged the Iranians to "not be passive" and to go to the polls despite "possible complaints and criticisms". A similar appeal came from the supreme leader, the great Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said that the vote is an act of patriotism in a context of strong tensions with the United States.
According to numerous observers, the next parliament will be dominated by extremists and radicals, also because 90% of the reformist candidates will not be able to run. In 2016 the blockade formed by reformists and moderates had conquered 41% of the 290 seats, 29% went to the conservatives and radicals linked to religious leadership and 28% to the independent ones.
Among the personalities vying for a seat in the Assembly is the former conservative mayor of Tehran Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. The outgoing President of Parliament Ali Larijani and the moderate Mohammad Reza Aref, leader of the reformist wing, will not be standing. Among the names rejected in the selection of the candidates that of Ali Motahari, a moderate, and the reformist Mahmud Sadeghi representing the constituency of the capital stand out.