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Campaigning opens for Iran parliament vote; many moderates excluded

Overshadowed by the controversial exclusion of many moderate candidates, campaigning has begun for parliamentary elections in Iran.

Overshadowed by the controversial exclusion of many moderate candidates, campaigning has begun for parliamentary elections in Iran.

More than 7,000 candidates will run for 290 seats in parliament in elections planned for February 21.

In Tehran alone, 1,400 candidates are competing for 30 seats. Those in the capital are seen to be particularly important and influential.

Reformers around President Hassan Rowhani are expected to struggle in the elections, as many moderate candidates have been prevented from standing.

The powerful Council of Guardians, which is responsible for choosing which candidates are eligible to run for election, removed thousands of mostly moderate and reform-orientated candidates from the campaign, without any explanation.

More than 75 per cent of the candidates who have been permitted to stand are conservatives and hardliners, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Moderates are also likely to battle with low turnout among disappointed voters. That could favour hardline candidates, whose supporters tend to vote in higher numbers.

Iran does not have a party system, so the elections pit competing factions against one another. The main groupings are: reformers around Rowhani; neo-conservatives, ultra-conservatives; and hardliners.

Some 58 million people are entitled to vote in the election, according to the country’s Interior Ministry, in a country of 83 million.

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