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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 16:34 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 16:34 | SYDNEY

Much ado about nothing? Iran's parliamentary elections

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17 March 2008 15:21

Guest blogger: Rodger Shanahan, the Lowy Institute's new Army Fellow. Rodger will have a blog photo of his own soon.

The relevance of this weekend’s Iranian parliamentary elections depends on who you speak to. On the one hand it was patently undemocratic, given the Council of Guardians’ veto of over 1500 (presumably reformist) candidates because they didn’t meet the Coucil’s undefined criteria of loyalty to the principles of the Islamic Revolution. At the same time, voter participation was up some 10-15% from the last parliamentary elections, indicating that more Iranians were motivated to vote. While final results will have to wait for some re-run elections in a few weeks’ time, it appears that reformist candidates performed within expectations (and limitations) while conservatives dominated, although the final breakup of those aligned with or against President Ahmedinejad was still being finalized.

In the end, though, it is fair to ask how much this will all mean to Iranian domestic or foreign policy. A greater measure of public sentiment will be apparent in the presidential elections due next year. Neither Ahmedinejad nor his more urbane, clerical predecessor Muhammad Khatami were the favourite to win, but their respective victories provided an insight into the aspirations of the Iranian public. Khatami because he promised social and political reform, and Ahmedinejad because he promised economic reform. Neither president has succeeded in delivering on their promises, due both to the dead hand of the Iranian theocratic system and in Ahmedinejad’s case an inability to transform political rhetoric into practical policy.

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