Iranians head to polls to pick new parliament

Feb 21, 2020

Iranians head to polls to pick new parliament

Tehran [Iran], Feb 21 (ANI): Many Iranians on Friday stood in long queues outside polling stations at various locations in Tehran as well as in other parts of the Middle Eastern country to cast their franchise in the country's eleventh parliamentary election that will choose a new parliament, also known as Majlis.
Amid escalating political tensions, economic struggles and concerns of low participation, the elections are seen as a test for the popularity of President Hassan Rouhani's reformist-moderate camp, which has dominated the Iranian Parliament since 2016, Al Jazeera reported.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his vote in Tehran, minutes after the polls opened on Friday at 8 a.m. (local time). He said it is a religious obligation to vote amid concerns of low participation.
Calling for a higher voter turnout, Khamenei told people to participate in the elections "if they were interested in the country's national interests."
Voters today will also choose replacements for seven deceased members of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader.
Nearly 58 million people are eligible to vote on pre-selected lists of candidates that represent more than 250 registered parties. All voters must be more than 18 years of age. Almost three million are first-time voters.
A total of 55,000 polling stations have been set up at mosques throughout the country. More than 7,000 candidates, including at least 666 women, are competing in the elections.
Apart from the deteriorating economy of the country, which officials blame is a result of US sanctions, some voters said they will boycott the vote because of a deadly crackdown by security forces on thousands of people protesting against fuel price rise in November.
The military's shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner on January 8, that killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians, was another reason cited for the boycott.
The spectre of the coronavirus infection that has killed two people also adds another layer of uncertainty to the electoral process. (ANI)