Why Conservatives Won in Iran

  • Many moderate supporters had already signaled that they would skip electoral participation.
  • Also contributing to the landslide conservatives victory is the disqualification of over 14,000 parliamentary hopefuls in January by the Guardian Council.
  • In an unexpected turn of events, the country’s deputy health minister soon after declared that he was infected with coronavirus.

Iran’s conservatives have won a general election that had a historically low turnout. According to the Iranian Interior Ministry, only 42.6 percent of Iranians participated in the polls. This is the lowest number ever recorded since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. This is despite a six-hour extension.

Legislative elections were held in Iran on 21 February and 17 April 2020, four years after the previous legislative election in 2016. The Principlists (also known as hardliners or Conservatives) had a major victory in the elections. They won 191 seats, while Reformists won 16 seats. 34 Independents also won seats. Turnout was estimated at 42.6%, the lowest since the Islamic Revolution.

In Tehran, the largest constituency, only about 30 percent of those entitled to vote showed up. According to the announcement made by The Interior Ministry, conservatives secured 219 out of 290 parliamentary seats. Subsequently, moderates led by President Hassan Rouhani, lost their parliamentary majority.

The loss has been judged to be an undeniable sign that the citizenry is weary of supporting his bloc. Many moderate supporters had already signaled that they would skip electoral participation. Many expressed disappointment with the political leadership because it had failed to deliver on its promises of higher economic growth and social freedom.

When the Iran Nuclear Deal was signed in 2015, the country enjoyed a brief period of economic optimism. Things changed when Donald Trump became President of the United States. Relations between the two nations deteriorated, and the saber-rattling ultimately brought them to the brink of war. This is after Trump authorized the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani.

Hassan Rouhani is the seventh and current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has been a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts since 1999, and was Chief Nuclear Negotiator from 2003 to 2005. He was re-elected President in 2017.

Crippling sanctions imposed by his administration have caused the inflation rate to jump. It peaked at 52 percent in 2019, the highest in two decades. The weak economy has also led to a higher unemployment rate and food security issues. As such, many Iranians are hesitant to support Rouhani’s group again. Rouhani was re-elected in 2017, after he promised to stand up for more freedom and dialogue with the West.

Mass Disqualification

Also contributing to the landslide conservatives victory is the disqualification of over 14,000 parliamentary hopefuls in January by the Guardian Council. Many of them were moderate and reformist candidates. As such, conservatives hardly had to face competition.

In January, Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist affiliated with Rouhani’s clique, warned that mass disqualification of hopefuls would lead to low voter turnout. “Elections will not be competitive and fair when they are not participated by candidates from various parties,” he said.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli spoke on Sunday about the turnout and said it was absolutely acceptable under current conditions. He also blamed coronavirus epidemic fears for the situation. Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that despite an intensive coronavirus propaganda campaign by foreign media, the turnout was huge.

“This negative propaganda about the virus began a couple of months ago and grew larger ahead of the election.

Their media did not miss the tiniest opportunity for dissuading Iranian voters and resorting to the excuse of disease and the virus.”

In an unexpected turn of events, the country’s deputy health minister soon after declared that he was infected with coronavirus.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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