Iran’s Elections on Friday Reinforced the Power of Iranian Hardliners

The Daily TIP

The Israel Project

February 29, 2016


The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board concluded on Sunday, “The political reality in Iran is that the Ayatollahs, backed by the Revolutionary Guards, remain firmly in control.” The elections were for the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body responsible for selecting the next supreme leader. The Journal explained, “Like all Iranian elections, the vote was a carefully stage-managed process. Iranians picked from among candidates prescreened for ideological orthodoxy by the unelected Guardian Council and various security agencies.” In the run-up to the elections, hardliners ensured a mathematical inevitability that they would maintain their hold on power. In January, Iran’s Guardian Council, the 12-member body that vetted the candidates, disqualified nearly 50% of all those who registered to run for a seat in the parliament. The Council disqualified 80% of those seeking election to the Assembly of Experts. Out of the 800 candidates seeking election, only 166 were allowed to run. Some of those disqualifications were later overturned but the exact figures have not been made public.

In the end, due to the number of candidates disqualified, many hardliners were added to so-called reformist lists. Both Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake and The Journal’s Editorial Board listed some of the hardline candidates who are projected to win in both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts that ended up on other lists. Lake named Kazem Jalali, a hardliner, who was endorsed by so-called reformists. Yet, he “called for sentencing to death” two leaders of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, a movement that advocated for more significant political and social changes. Those two leaders remain under house arrest. Mostafa Kavakebian, who also appears on a so-called reformist list and is projected to win a seat in the Majlis, is the General Secretary of Iran’s Democratic Party. According to The Journal, in 2008 he said, “The people who currently reside in Israel aren’t humans, and this region is comprised of a group of soldiers and occupiers who openly wage war on the people.”