Iran election turnout hits record low, hardliners maintain grip on parliament

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

Turnout in Iran’s parliamentary election was around 41 percent, the country’s interior minister said on Monday, the lowest participation since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that swept the clerical rulers into power.

Friday’s election was seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s legitimacy amid mounting economic struggles and a lack of electoral options for a mostly young population chafing at political and social restrictions.

“Some 25 million people out of over 61 million eligible Iranians voted in the March 1 election for the 290-seat legislature,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told a televised news conference.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In the 2020 parliamentary election, turnout was 42.5 percent. About 62 percent of voters participated in 2016.

Authorities said the turnout “indicated the people’s trust in the sacred system of the Islamic Republic.”

Vahidi said invalid votes made up 5 percent of the total vote count. Some Iranian media reported that number to be as high as 30 percent, suggesting signs of disillusionment even among core supporters of the Islamic Republic.

“Authorities should listen to the silent majority ... and reform the governance method ... I hope they realize before it’s too late to reverse the damage and harm this path will cause,” state media quoted reformist politician Azar Mansouri as saying.

In some constituencies, where candidates failed to get the required minimum 20 percent of the votes cast, a run-off will be held in April, Vahidi said.

In Tehran, which accounts for 30 seats in parliament, a second round will be held for 16 seats.

The election was the first since anti-government protests in 2022-23 that spiraled into one of Iran’s worst political turmoil since the Islamic Revolution and quelled by a violent crackdown involving mass detentions and even executions.

With heavyweight moderates and conservatives staying out and reformists calling the election not free and unfair, the contest was essentially among hardliners and low-key conservatives, all proclaiming loyalty to revolutionary ideals.

Iran’s parliament, dominated by hardliners for more than two decades, has little impact on foreign policy or Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. These issues are determined by the country’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Activists and opposition groups, arguing that a high turnout would legitimize the Islamic Republic, had called for a boycott by widely distributing the hashtags #VOTENoVote and #ElectionCircus on the social media platform X.

Former president Mohammad Khatami, considered the spiritual leader of Iran’s reformists, was among critics who did not vote on Friday.

Opposition critics say the ruling clerics are no longer capable of solving an economic crisis caused by a mix of mismanagement, corruption and US sanctions reimposed since 2018 when Washington ditched Tehran’s nuclear pact with major powers.

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

Read more:

Iran begins voting in first parliament election since 2022 protests

Vote if you ‘love’ Iran: Khamenei makes final appeal for participation in elections

Economic pain casts dark shadow as Iranians go to vote

Top Content Trending