The Weekend Politics Thread Questions the Significance of Iran’s Elections

Anna: Eventually I will know something about one of these topics and contribute to them.  But today is not this day. I DO know that Iran is going through it. I very tentatively spent some time at Al-Jazeera to read up a bit on the Parliamentary elections and came away wondering how on earth the Guardian Council is a neutral decider because over here that shit would be political before the next midterm. Monty, do you know things and what do you know? Let’s find out.

Monty: Oh, they won’t, and that’s actually what makes this election interesting.

For context, Iran is holding elections for its Parliament next Friday, 21 February. This is a portentous time for such an election, as Iran has been entangled in a whole bunch of conflicts all over West Asia, from Syria to Yemen to Iraq.

As easy as it is to point a finger at the US or Russia, it’s important to remember that Iran is its own country with its own internal political struggles and quests to secure its global interests. But those interests have been getting a lot of pushback, notably in Iraq, where mass protests have decried Iranian meddling under the guise of acting as a protector of Shi’a Islam. Within Iran itself, economic malaise and growing discontent with conservative religious policing have rapidly escalated as well.

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That isn’t to say that these elections will be any kind of referendum on the state of the country. In order to run for Parliament (and the Senate-like Assembly of Experts, which is also up for election on Friday), one has to be approved by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel appointed directly or indirectly by the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This is why Iran is not considered a democracy, and for its part, the Guardian Council has all but forbidden reform-minded candidates from running.

So what’s interesting about this election is not the outcome of the vote, but how the Iranian people will respond in this moment of crisis– and how the government will push back.

Anna: From what Matt’s tweets suggest Iran seems to be wanting some reform candidates, so this is not so much an election that will change things but a reaction to an election that might end up changing things. What are you expecting to see?

Monty: No idea. Similar post-election protests in 2009 ultimately fizzled out, and I’m afraid that expecting serious damage to the current regime would just be wishful thinking. But honestly, it feels like anything could happen.

As ever, be respectful of each other, observe The Avocado’s house rules, and do not threaten Mayor McSquirrel.