The people of Iran once again frustrated the enemies of the Islamic Republic by turning out in large numbers for the Majlis (parliament) elections today (February 21). Long lines were visible from early morning as people patiently waited for their turn to enter the hall to cast ballot.
This is the eleventh election to the Majlis since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.
The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei had urged people on February 18 that a massive turnout in the election would be a slap on the face of Iran’s enemies.
“Enemies want to know what all of their attempts, the economic difficulties that exist in the country, the perfidy of the Westerners and the Europeans toward Iran, and all the pressures — the maximum pressure, as they call it themselves — have finally done to the Iranian people,” the Rahbar said.
“Our friends all over the world, too, are watching with concern to see what happens.”
It is interesting to note that in Iran, all officials have been urging people to vote while in the US voter suppression is the norm.
There are more than 59 million eligible voters in a population of 80 million.
Concurrently, mid-term elections were also held for the Assembly of Experts, the higher body that is tasked with choosing a successor to the Rahbar.
Unlike the US where elections are an extremely expensive circus in which the successful candidate is already selected by the oligarchy, in Iran they are a sombre affair.
This does not mean elections do not generate excitement: they do.
This year, two issues in particular have dominated the election campaign.
The first was America’s violation of the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran from which Donald Trump walked away in May 2018.
He also imposed illegal sanctions on Iran that have resulted in much suffering of the Iranian people including people needing medicines.
The second issue has been the US assassination of General Haj Qassem Soleimani on January 3 at Baghdad International Airport.
Many commentators have described it as a war crime, including Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions.
She said the US assassination of Iran’s top commander was “most likely unlawful.”
Both issues have impacted the election campaign and have been hotly debated.
While Iran does not have political parties, it does have political blocs.
There are two major ones: the Principalists and Reformists. There is also a third group: the independents.
There are 290 seats in the Majlis for which on average 17 candidates are vying for each seat.
The capital Tehran has 30 seats but those are even more hotly contested with almost 44 candidates competing for each seat.
Another interesting feature of Iran’s Majlis is that once elected, members vote according to their conscience. Their particular slate does not dictate how they should vote.
The final results will emerge in the next day or so.