Iran election turnout around 40pc reports say

Iran election turnout around 40pc reports say
Iran election turnout around 40pc reports say

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Iranians vote during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, March 1, 2024. — Reuters pic

TEHRAN, March 2 — Turnout for Iran’s parliamentary election, seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s legitimacy, appears to have hit a historic low of around 40 per cent, according to unofficial reports in Iranian media today.

Heavyweight moderates and conservatives stayed away from yesterday’s election and reformists called it unfree and unfair as it was mainly a contest between hardliners and low-key conservatives loyal to Islamic revolutionary ideals.

Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s first reformist president, was among the critics who did not vote yesterday.

Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, a women’s rights advocate, in a statement shared by her family with Reuters, called the election a “sham”.

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The Hamshahri and Kayhan newspapers both reported that turnout was estimated at about 40 per cent, in line with official surveys ahead of the poll estimating about 41 per cent of eligible Iranians would vote.

The Hamshahri called the turnout “a 25-million slap” to calls for an election boycott, in a front-page headline next to a depiction of a ballot paper smacking US President Joe Biden in the face.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Iran’s “enemies” — a term he normally uses for the United States and Israel — of trying to create despair among Iranian voters.

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“The Silent Majority” was the front page headline in Ham Mihan, a pro-reform newspaper, which also put the turnout at about 40 per cent.

The interior ministry may announce the official turnout later today. If the turnout figure is officially confirmed, it would be the lowest turnout since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.

Iran’s turnout fell to 42.5 per cent in 2020 parliamentary elections from about 62 per cent in 2016.

The election follows anti-government protests in 2022-23 that spiralled into some of Iran’s worst political turmoil since the revolution and coincided with growing frustration over the country’s economic woes.

Over 15,000 candidates ran for the 290-seat parliament yesterday.

The parliamentary election was twinned with a vote for the 88-seat Assembly of Experts, an influential body that has the task of choosing 84-year-old Khamenei’s successor.

Hardline President Ebrahim Raisi was re-elected to the Assembly of Experts with 82.5 per cent of the vote, the interior ministry announced today.

Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who was elected president in landslide wins in 2013 and 2017 promising to reduce Iran’s diplomatic isolation, was banned from running, drawing criticism from moderates. — Reuters

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