By James Hess, Ph.D.
Professor, School of Security and Global Studies, American Military University
Iran’s next election takes place today. For this election, Iranians are asked to vote for 290 lawmakers to fill its parliament.
However, there is an issue: the candidates must be approved through the Guardian Council of Iran, which represents Iran’s clerical leadership in Qom. Qom is home to the most revered seminary, known as a Hawza, in Iran.
Parliament Is Not the Real Governing Power in Iran
In Iran, the Parliament’s powers are limited. In fact, it would be correct to say that all authority within the country rests in the religious leadership in Qom.
The supreme leader of this theocracy is Ali Hosseini Khamenei. All foreign policies and religious dogmas to determine legislative and jurisprudential matters are established through the Guardian Council under Khamenei’s leadership.
Guardian Council Rejected About Half of the Parliamentary Candidates
For this current parliamentary election, over 14,000 candidates applied to run for office, but the Guardian Council rejected almost half of them. This is not unique for Iran. For every election, the Guardian Council carefully reviews applicants and approves those conservative candidates that support the supreme leader’s positions.
Lately, Iranians Are Questioning the Guardian Council’s Decisions
What matters today is not those candidates who have been approved to run. Neither is the ultimate outcome of today’s vote.
What truly matters is how many people support the election. Iranians have recently questioned the decisions of the Guardian Council, especially after the recent downing of Ukrainian flight 752.
The percentage of Iranians supporting the election could be less than 50 percent. That percentage is a downward trend that should concern the Guardian Council for this organization to retain its legitimacy.
About the Author
Dr. James Hess is a professor at American Military University. Dr. Hess received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, where he studied improving analytical methodologies in counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism environments. He is also a fellow and affiliated faculty with the University of Arizona’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.