Iran’s March 2 parliamentary elections marked the first time citizens have voted since the controversial 2009 presidential elections which placed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into office for a second term.
But how, exactly, does one go about running for office in the Islamic Republic of Iran?
In an interview with Al Jazeera news, Reza Marashi, research director of the National Iranian American Council, and professor of political science at Syracuse University, explains Iran’s complex political process.
“There are three levels at which a candidate’s credentials have to be approved,” says Marashi. “Provincial governors, county governors and district governors form a committee to investigate the background of candidates.”
Vying for 290 parliament seats in the recent March election were an approved 3,444 candidates. Those disqualified during the investigation process were notified by private letter as to why they were not approved. If a disqualified candidate asks for proof of the charges against him, authorities are required to provide that evidence.
However, says Marashi, this rarely happens in reality.
Al Jazeera reports that among other requirements, candidates must demonstrate “a deep, demonstrated belief in Islam…a demonstrated commitment to the revolution and its ideals, and more recently, a Master’s degree.” The latter is a newly instituted requirement which began with this year’s election. Prior to this, a BA degree was deemed sufficient.
The outcome of Iranian elections shifts primary focus from winners and losers, or the percentage of citizens who voted. Says Marashi, “Anything over 50 per cent is considered a sign of the system’s legitimacy by the regime.”
What do you think about Iran’s election requirements/process?
Do you see any similarities to our own?