Observers predict a low turnout in the Iranian general election. Many want change, but the past few years have shown how powerless the elected institutions in the Islamic Republic are.
Many of the 58 million Iranians eligible to vote will likely stay home if a new parliament is elected on Friday. Not even one in four in the capital wants to vote, according to a survey carried out by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Tehran in early February. In 2016, 50 percent of the electorate in Tehran voted twice as many. Voter turnout was around 62 percent across the country.
Mohammad Sadeq Dschawadi Hesar also expects the turnout to be low. Hesar is a member of the reform-oriented Etemade Meli (National Trust) party. In a telephone conversation with Deutsche Welle, Hesar said: “The engine of elections in Iran has always been the younger people, students and academics. But they are now disappointed with empty promises, they are frustrated, especially because they do not have a reasonable answer to the Have seen crises in the past two years. “
Women’s activists in Iran are also frustrated and disappointed. “Anyone who goes to the polls confirms the regime’s crimes,” wrote twelve political prisoners in an open letter to all Iranians from the women’s section of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Given the brutal dealings with protesters over the past two years, they are in favor of an election boycott.
The Iranian Parliament has theoretical and budgetary powers, but it cannot ignore the will of the religious leader. Voter turnout and the performance of reform-oriented forces are nevertheless seen as a signal for the direction of Iranian society.
The reformers had performed surprisingly well in the 2016 elections. The disappointment is now all the more intense given the worsening economic crisis, which has expanded into a comprehensive national crisis. Desperate people protesting on the streets were faced with unprecedented brutality by law enforcement officers. So last November, after a council appointed by the religious leader cut state energy subsidies overnight without even informing Parliament.
Dead protesters and air disaster
Two days later, when demonstrators were targeted by paramilitary forces, the country was almost completely cut off from the Internet. News and photos of the government’s brutal treatment of its own people should not be distributed. The Internet boycott was implemented by the young Rohani government minister of communication, Asari-Jahromi. Proof for many voters: When it comes to suppressing critical voices, there are hardly any differences between hardliners, moderates and reformers. Here, too, Parliament only had a role as a spectator.
It was exactly the same after the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane shortly after taking off in Tehran on January 8th. All 176 passengers on the plane died, including 146 Iranians. Nobody in Parliament dares to ask those in charge of the Revolutionary Guard how this tragedy could have happened.
Disappointment benefits conservatives
“The people of Iran feel that the elected institutions have nothing to report, neither the parliament nor the president,” observed political scientist Sadegh Zibakalam from Tehran. “All the important decisions have been made over their heads. Many voters are now wondering why they should vote at all? These disappointed voters are exactly the ones who were mobilized by the reformers’ promises,” says Zibakalam. “But there is also a part of society that is loyal to the political system and is always voting, preferably the conservative candidates.”
As usual, the Guardian Council played its role in the preselection of candidates loyal to the regime: almost 9,000 candidates were excluded from the election, including 92 incumbent MPs, mostly well-known reform-minded politicians. 7150 candidates are now admitted – many of them young and inexperienced, who have one thing in common: their absolute loyalty to Ayatollah Khamenei. They are applying for 290 seats in the Iranian parliament. The reformers’ defeat is inevitable.
Author: Shabnam von Hein