On February 26, Iran will hold two simultaneous elections: one for the Assembly of Experts, and the other for the Majlis, the country’s parliament.
The Majlis has 290 members that are elected to four-year terms. Its main responsibilities are legislation and oversight. The Assembly of Experts is a body of 88 jurists elected to eight-year terms and tasked with the supervision of, and the extremely sensitive issue of electing, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
State media reported last Thursday that over 6,200 candidates who have been approved to run, including 586 women, began a one-week campaign for a place in the country’s 290-seat parliament. Over 12,000 hopefuls had initially registered for the election.
In the capital Tehran, over 1,000 candidates are competing for just 30 seats.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has urged Iranians to take part in the elections even though, as he said last week, “capable” and “deserving figures” have been disqualified from running.
The exact numbers of candidates in the various camps is difficult to gauge, since they are spread out across hundreds of constituencies and many are relatively unknown politically. But many reformists are believed to have been disqualified from running during the candidate vetting process.
Both reformists and conservatives have focused on improving the economic situation of the country, which is still feeling the effects of years of international sanctions. According to government statistics, inflation stands at 13 percent and the unemployment rate in Iran is 10 percent.
“The current crisis in Iran is an economic one,” he said. “Iran needs more efficient and expert parliament members.”
Reformist and moderate candidates have formed an alliance, hoping to challenge conservative lawmakers, who currently hold a majority in parliament.
The parliamentary elections will be seen as a vote on Rouhani’s moderate policies. The president and his allies received a popularity boost following the July 14 landmark nuclear deal that curbs Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.
AP contributed to this report
Image: An Iranian woman holds leaflets showing Parvaneh Salahshouri, a candidate of the parliamentary elections, during a reformists campaign rally in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.