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Iran’s Khamenei urges people to vote in parliamentary run-off amid apathy

In News, World
May 10, 2024

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei casts ballot, urges people to vote amid declining turnout in recent elections.

Iranians are voting in a run-off for the remaining seats in Parliament after conservative candidates dominated the elections in March.

Shortly after polling stations opened on Friday, state TV showed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casting his vote.

Khamenei, who has the final say in important matters of state, urged people to head to polling stations as voter apathy remains high since the last parliamentary elections in 2020 in an indication of widespread discontent.

The 290-member legislature, however, plays a secondary role in governing the country.

The outcome of Friday’s voting will not affect the final shape of the Parliament, which is controlled predominantly by hardliners.

In March, conservatives won 200 of 245 seats, with more moderate candidates taking the other 45.

On Friday, voters in 22 constituencies across the country will elect 45 representatives from a pool of 90 candidates, 15 of whom are considered moderate.

In the capital, Tehran, 16 representatives will be chosen from 32 candidates, all of them hardliners sympathetic to Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi.

Declining voter participation

Twenty-five million ballots were cast in March, with a turnout of 41 percent, the lowest participation since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The previous lowest turnout was 42 percent in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

While elections in previous decades regularly saw turnouts of more than 60 percent or even 70 percent, only 48 percent of the electorate cast their ballots in the 2021 presidential polls.

This year’s elections are the first since nationwide protests broke out in 2022 over the death of Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police.

The authorities responded to the demonstrations with a violent crackdown and mass detentions, international human rights groups said.

Many moderate and reformist candidates are barred from contesting and the elections are taking place as the country continues to reel from crippling sanctions and a currency crisis.

Voting on Friday follows increasing tensions between Iran and Israel. In April, Iran launched about 300 missiles and drones at Israel after a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Final results are expected on Monday, although counts in smaller constituencies are likely before that.

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