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Members of Iran's Assembly of Experts attend their last seasonal meeting of the fourth assembly, Tehran, Iran, March 8, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Iran’s Election Results Show Pendulum Swinging Away From Hard-Liners

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Last month’s elections for Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts were complicated by the elaborate and extensive vetting procedure that filters out candidates considered too radical for the system. The overwhelming majority of those disqualified candidates belonged to the progressive end of the spectrum, usually referred to as reformists. Yet despite the authorities’ efforts to manage the outcome, Iran’s hard-liners still lost their majority in Iran’s 290-member parliament, or Majlis, while moderates won a majority in the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body tasked with choosing the next supreme leader. Key hard-liners, including two prominent clerics from the Assembly of Experts, were voted out.

The elections were the latest sign that when Iranian voters are mobilized by push or pull, they tend to get their message across. The “pull” is to vote in candidates that channel popular positions, and the “push” is to vote out candidates who are perceived as not addressing the concerns of the electorate. While the extensive vetting process that handicaps elections in Iran can weaken the pull factor, it cannot neutralize the push—it can only present the electorate with more or less palatable candidates. Once the candidates clear all pre-election hurdles, the voters can use their own metrics to ensure that their voices are heard. ...

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