Iranian parliamentary elections will take place on 2 March, the country’s first elections since the disputed presidential poll in 2009, which triggered country-wide protests.
Human rights organisations report that there have been increasing numbers of arrests of opposition supporters in the run-up to the vote. Reformists have even asked their supporters to remain at home on election day, saying there is little point in contesting.
This means that the poll will be a contest between conservatives, specifically supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad versus loyalists of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some groups supporting the president include the Islamic Government Supporters Front, the Young Advisers of the President, the Justice and Compassion Front and the Unity and Justice Front. The supreme leader’s supporters include the United Principle-ist Front (UPF) which calls for unity on the basis of Islam and the supreme leader. The Steadfastness Front (Paydari) represents a group of former Ahmadinejad supporters, who have since turned against the president. The men joined forces following the protests in 2009, but the rift between them has widened since then.
The parliamentary election will assess the support for each of them. However, Khamenei has an advantage because he decides who runs in the election, in line with Iran’s constitution. Official figures show that 5,395 candidates applied to run in the election. The Guardian Council approved 3,444 of them amid reports that it had barred those loyal to Ahmadinejad. The Guardian Council comprises 12 members, who are selected by Khamenei.
One quarter of the vote is required to win or it will go to a second round at a later date. More than 48 million Iranians are eligible to vote.