The elections campaign for the Ninth Majlis, the Iranian parliament, started today. The elections will be held on 2 March. In the absence of the reformists and the opposition, the conservative candidates will be competing against each other for the 290 seats in Majlis.
The Guardian Council, the government’s elections supervisory body, has disqualified 30 percent of candidates for Majlis, including 35 current members of the parliament. Among the most prominent politicians disqualified are Shahabodin Sadr, currently the deputy speaker of the Majlis and Mahmoud Alavi, currently a member of the Assembly of Experts and the former Supreme Leader’s representative in Artesh (Iran’s regular military). They have been accused of “not abiding to the Islamic principles.”
The conservatives are slip under three main groupings:
- The ruling United Principlist Front (UPF), the traditional conservatives led by Assembly of Expert Chairman Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.
- The Resistance Front (RF), the ultraconservatives led by fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
- Voice of Nation (VON- formerly known as ‘Government Critics’), the most moderate of the three groups, led by Dr. Ali Motahari, Ahmadinejad’s chief critic in the current Majlis.
48,288,799 people are eligible to vote, with 3.9 million becoming eligible to cast their votes for the first time.