The campaign season for Iran parliamentary elections will begin on 24 December when the candidates will have one week to register to compete for Majlis seats. The hopefuls, however, will be vetted by the government’s election supervisory body, the Guardian Council, which will release its own list of approved candidates to compete in polls, now scheduled to be held on 2 March 2012.
The 2012 elections for the new Majlis (the Ninth Majlis) are the first since the controversial June 2009 presidential race that gave rise to the Green Movement. It is not clear if the reformists would field any candidates for the upcoming elections. The leaders of the Greens, Mr. Mousavi and Ayatollah Karrubi, have been kept isolated and under house arrest for more than eight months. Many other movement activists are in prison or freed on bail, unable to run. It is not also clear if the Guardian Council would even allow members of the opposition who were not jailed to run for Majlis.
Ironically, the supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself a beneficiary of the controversial 2009 elections, might themselves be vetted out of running for Majlis by the Guardian Council. They are branded “deviationists” by the conservatives who have called for the arrest of their political leader, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and son-in-law.
In some conservative circles, however, there are voices favoring tolerance towards the participation of a select group of reformist candidates. They fear a “one-party” election, conservative candidates running against other conservative candidates, would split their ranks and could lead to victories by the “deviationists,” if they were allowed to remain in race.