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An Iranian woman walks past electoral posters of parliamentary election candidates, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

A Contest With Caveats: Iran’s Pivotal but Hamstrung Elections

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016

On Friday, Feb. 26, Iranians will take part in a complicated and contradictory drama in their country: voting in elections. They will cast ballots for candidates in the Majlis, Iran’s parliament, where all 290 seats are contested every 4 years, and the Assembly of Experts, in which its 88 members—all senior religious scholars—are elected every 8 years.

The Majlis race is of short- and medium-term importance, mainly affecting President Hassan Rouhani’s ability to enact his political agenda. Whether the new parliament will work with him or not has implications for developing Iran’s post-sanctions economy and other key domestic issues. The Assembly of Experts, meanwhile, is significant in the long term, since the council’s primary task is electing the supreme leader, the highest political authority in the Islamic Republic and the final decision-maker in Iran’s conflict-ridden political system. With the 76-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in reportedly poor health, it is likely that the clerics voted into the next Assembly of Experts will name his successor. ...

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