Iran’s parliamentary elections could see low voter turnout due to voter frustration

This Friday is Iran’s parliamentary elections; however, the real question may not be who wins but rather how many people actually cast ballots. Many individuals have privately declared they won’t vote in this election due to widespread dissatisfaction with the collapsing economy, years of nationwide protests that shook the nation, tensions with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, and Iran’s support for Russia in its war on Ukraine. While officials have encouraged voters to cast their ballots, it’s noteworthy that the state-owned polling place ISPA has not disclosed any information this year regarding anticipated turnout, which has always been a characteristic of previous elections. Just five of the twenty-one Iranians The Associated Press spoke with stated they would cast a ballot.

 

“Many police and security personnel will attempt to stop me if I protest about a flaw,” stated Amin, a 21-year-old college student who only revealed his first name out of concern for retaliation. “However, they won’t react if I starve to death on a corner of a major street. The Islamic Consultative Assembly, the 290-member parliament, has almost 15,000 candidates running for seats. There are five seats set aside for Iran’s religious minorities, and terms are for four years.

 

For the past 20 years, hardliners have ruled the parliament, frequently issuing “Death to America” cries from the floor. Under the leadership of parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, a former general of the Revolutionary Guard who had backed a bloody crackdown on Iranian university students in 1999, the legislature in 2020 advanced a bill that significantly reduced Tehran’s collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. This came after the United States withdrew from Iran’s nuclear agreement with other countries unilaterally under then-President Donald Trump in 2018. This action caused years of tensions in the Middle East and allowed Iran to enrich enough uranium at a record-breaking purity to have enough fuel for “several” nuclear weapons, should it so choose.

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