Voting in legislative and important assembly polls in Iran amid economic worries

In an election tainted by discontent about economic hardships and limitations on social and political liberties, Iranians are casting their votes for a new parliament. The Friday election represents the first official gauge of public sentiment after anti-government demonstrations in 2022–2023 erupted into some of the most severe political unrest since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.Iranian authorities, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, encouraged people to vote, but there didn’t seem to be many people using the polls in Tehran, the nation’s capital. The government has mainly prevented reformist candidates, or those advocating for any kind of change within the nation’s theocracy, from participating in the election, leaving a largely conservative or hardline slate.

 

Iran’s economy remains stagnant due to sanctions imposed by the West on Tehran for its quickly progressing nuclear program, as well as its arming of militia proxies in the Middle East and Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. A portion of Friday’s voters were aware of Iran’s difficulties. “Too many problems, there are a lot of them,” remarked a voter who only revealed her last name, Sajjad. “We express our disapproval as much as we can while also being depressed and mournful. With any lucky, the people in charge [will] begin to consider us, and most likely a good number of them actually do.”

 

The Islamic Consultative Assembly, the 290-member parliament, has about 15,000 candidates running for seats. Merely 116 of them are regarded as reasonably moderate or reform-oriented contenders. People who are calling for drastic changes are either prohibited or did not bother to register because authorities have widely disqualified them. The 84-year-old Khamenei was among the first voters in an election that will select the new members of the Assembly of Experts for the nation. Given Khamenei’s advanced age, the panel of clerics, who have an eight-year tenure, is required to choose a new supreme leader in the event that Khamenei steps down or passes away.

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