Iran's Upcoming Elections

By Hamedani, Nina | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Iran's Upcoming Elections


Hamedani, Nina, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


THE WOODROW WILSON Center in Washington, DC held a Jan. 25 forum to discuss "Iran's 2008 Parliamentary Elections: Slogans and Stakes." Featured speaker was Farideh Farhi, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and an independent researcher who often writes about Iranian politics. Even approaching the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Republic, its election processes are an enigma to many-including Iranians who emigrated prior to the 1979 Revolution.

Iran's resources and its population of over 70 million are mobilized approximately once a year to handle the number and variety of elections in the country, Farhi explained. While there have been many attempts to synch parliamentary or majlis elections with Iran's presidential elections by shortening terms, the Constitution specifies four-year terms for both. The Guardian Council (GC) is the governing body responsible for interpreting the Constitution, and Farhi explained that it has "proven to be a stickler to this law." Thus the frequent elections continue, with elections for the 290-seat majlis scheduled for March 14.

The Ministry of the Interior runs the elections, which are supervised by the GC. The latter-consisting of six Islamic jurists selected by Iran's Supreme Leader, and six jurists of other specializations selected by the majlis from a set of nominees given by the Head of Judicial Power (who is also appointed by the Supreme Leader)-possesses the critical authority to approve or disqualify candidates.

In the 2004 elections, Farhi said, some 8,000 to 8,200 candidates ran for the 290 majlis seats. To try to narrow the gap between the number of candidates and available seats, she explained, reforms were passed including that candidates must now be at least 30 years old and no older than 75, and hold at least a master's degree (each previous four-year parliamentary term counts as one degree). …

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