Tehran, 23 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Turnout in Friday’s Iranian parliamentary election, – which saw the conservatives and hardliners running in opposition to President Hassan Rowhani far ahead, as expected – was 42.57 per cent, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on Sunday.
The figure will be a disappointment for the country’s political leadership, which had called for a turnout of between at least 55 and 60 per cent in the run-up to the elections.
In their view, a high level of participation in the elections would have been confirmation of their policies and thus evidence of popular support for the Islamic regime.
The low result can be interpreted as a protest against the entire Iranian leadership. Rowhani’s opponents were especially in the lead in Tehran, where turnout is said to have been only 27 per cent.
In addition to Tehran, they also did well in the provinces, giving them their best chance to celebrate a political comeback after years of absence; they have not won a national vote since the 2012 polls.
Even before the official final result was announced, the hardliner and conservatives’ top candidate, Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, was the clear winner and is set to serve as the new parliamentary president.
The final result of Friday’s election is expected on Monday.
The elections had been overshadowed by the disqualification of the vast majority of moderate and reformist candidates led by Rowhani.
Nearly 75 per cent of their candidates were disqualified by the Council of Guardians, which is responsible for the ideological screening of people standing for election in Iran.
It was therefore inevitable that the conservatives and hardliners would win a landslide in the elections. They had been banking on US President Donald Trump’s tough line against Tehran boosting their support.
Iran is in a severe economic and financial crisis, leading to mass street demonstration towards the end of 2019. Amnesty International says hundreds were killed in the regime’s crackdown on the protests. Tehran denies the deaths occurred.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have steadily escalated since Trump unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and started a “maximum pressure” campaign of reimposing sanctions against Iran.
Anger about the apparently accidental shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines flight by Iranian forces that left all 176 people on board dead – many of them Iranians – and the perceived cover-up by the regime fuelled another round of anti-government protests in January.