Iran held elections for its parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, as well as its Assembly of Experts, a body of clergy that chooses and supervises the Supreme Leader. The elections on February 26 were the first since the historic nuclear deal was negotiated.
Iran does not have any official political parties, but many factions have developed. This election features primarily conservative and moderate candidates, as many of the more progressive reformists were disqualified before voting took place. Religious leaders exercise control over the selection of candidates, removing and sometimes imprisoning individuals that they deem to be in direct conflict with their values. Election fraud may also be a concern, especially following tampering allegations in 2009 which sparked the Green Movement protests.
The current parliament is comprised mainly of conservative-leaning politicians who are opposed to President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate administration. This election is particularly significant because the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is 76 years old and may need to be replaced in the near future.
While the final outcomes have yet to be announced, the preliminary results tilt in the favor of moderate and reformist candidates. This could be of great help to President Rouhani’s efforts to extend the personal liberties of Iranian citizens, a major part of his 2013 election platform.
Rouhani has spent much of his term attempting to negotiate the nuclear agreement with the international community while dealing with opposition from domestic hard-liners who have strong aversions to opening Iran up to the West. A parliament that is in line with his ideals may help relieve these two-front pressures. However, it is important to note that these initial election results are only from the Tehran area, in which the population is generally more progressive that the rest of the country.