News

Iran Elections Pose Challenge Amid Economic Crisis

Iranian women sit at bus stop, in front of parliamentary elections campaign posters in the city of Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, March 1, 2012.
Iranian women sit at bus stop, in front of parliamentary elections campaign posters in the city of Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, March 1, 2012.

Iran's Parliamentary Elections Facts

  • Candidates are cleared by the Guardian Council.
  • 3,444 candidates are running out of the 5,395 who registered.
  • Parliament has 290 seats.
  • Voters must be over 18 years old.
  • 48 million people of Iran's 74 million strong population are eligible to vote.
  • Ballots are counted manually.

In an election with millions of voters and hundreds of candidates, the two most important figures in Iran's parliamentary ballot aren't running for office.

But analysts say differences between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will affect the results.

The two leaders represent a contest among religious and political conservatives that will play out in Friday's voting.

“There’s only one side that can really win in that confrontation and that’s the Supreme Leader, who holds most of the key powers of state, who controls the conditions under which these elections will be fought," said Shashank Joshi, an analyst with the London-based Royal United Services Institute.

"What’s become very apparent is that the presidency’s standing, its status is going to come out of this process probably fairly bruised,” he said.

First election since 2009

Friday’s vote is the first national election in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential run-off.

The outcome of that election triggered widespread street protests and a brutal crackdown on the opposition, or ‘Green Movement,’ in which dozens of people were killed.

Reformist leaders, including Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been under house arrest for more than a year. They have called for a boycott of the parliamentary election, claiming it is rigged.

“The indicators are the Green Movement is dead," said analyst Joshi. "And if it’s there, it’s really only the embers of the movement left," he said. "There is very little indication we’re going to see anything like the similar protests.”

The poll comes as Iran faces increasing isolation over its nuclear program and accusations that human rights abuses have worsened in the run-up to the vote.

President Ahmadinejad draws his support from Iran’s working class. But soaring inflation and cuts to fuel and food subsidies threaten to undermine that support base.

Western sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear activities are starting to hurt economically.

But analyst Joshi says the election results will not prompt any re-thinking of Iran's nuclear policy.

“Ahmadinejad has benefited from his populist, radical line internationally," he said. "Anti-Israel, anti-West and fairly belligerent."

"However it’s worth just noting on the nuclear issue, it was Ahmadinejad who tried to look for compromise or was open to compromise in 2009 when nuclear negotiations were at their peak," Joshi said.

Rights groups wary

Human rights groups say Iran's clampdown on dissent has expanded in the run-up to the election.

“The authorities learned that they do not want to be on the receiving end of what Twitter can bring, what Facebook can bring, what YouTube can bring," said Drewery Dyke, who monitors Iran for Amnesty International.

"So the kind of measures we’ve been seeing recently, and having been built up over the past year or two, the creation of a cyber army, the creation of a cyber police," he said.

Dyke says the opposition movement will not stay down for long.

“This cannot go on in the way that it is," he said. "There are tensions and pressures in the system that will make themselves felt and the incoming parliamentarians need to understand that.”

Those pressures could be felt as soon as 2013 - when Iran will hold a much more important vote - the presidential election.

Iran's Leaders

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: shahjahan
March 02, 2012 3:42 AM
Iran needs scientific leadership to put off the Armageddon it triggered in 1979. .

by: dyke davis
March 01, 2012 9:57 AM
Iran's standard of living is better than that of the most western developed Democracies, even with some 30-years of illegally imposed sanctions and western media millions of dollars in misinformation.
And, this is why, the west hates Iran and claims that they are becoming impoverished within the last two months of US-EUZionist pressure; pressure that isn't even near its global potiental as it takes time to work throughout this complex system.

by: Gab to Wuregan
March 01, 2012 9:48 AM
What about the belief in the 12th Imam, Allah’s designated Mahdi is the one who demands a violent path to conquer the world. Is it or is it not a factor in a Country run by a religious dictator? The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

by: wuregan
March 01, 2012 9:04 AM
The citizens in Iran should go to their Imam in their home town and tell their Imam about the huge saddness in Iran today. This is the only way to change life in Iran, "bring the sadness to the Imam's of Iran".

by: The reality
March 01, 2012 8:18 AM
Is this the election of Iran or USA ? I think Bill Maher knows what I mean01 . Look at the rampant fraud during US election before criticizing Iran and Middle East countries . Israel has made US politicians and media react insanely . If you respected Iranians choice you would not impose inhuman sanctions . It bankrupted US budget running behind its greed and wackiness which made US lose its dignity.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs