Iran candidates kick off campaigns for parliamentary elections
The vote is seen as a test of the popularity of the relatively moderate and pro-reform bloc led by President Rouhani, who has struggled to deliver on campaign promises [File: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA]
Thousands of Iranian candidates approved to run in parliamentary elections kicked off their campaigns on Thursday ahead of next week’s vote, even after authorities barred thousands of others from running, mainly reformists and moderates.
The February 21 parliamentary elections come amid high tensions between Tehran and Washington, which is at its peak in 40 years.
Iran‘s President Hassan Rouhani has slammed the disqualifications but earlier this week, he urged the crowds in Tehran marking the anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution to turn out at the polls in large numbers.
The vote is seen as a test of the popularity of the relatively moderate and pro-reform bloc led by Rouhani, who has struggled to deliver on campaign promises to improve people’s lives as Iran’s economy buckles under the weight of US economic sanctions.
Also, a high turnout in the polls will be seen as a vote of confidence in the country’s Shia theocracy, something Iran has tried to showcase amid the crisis with Washington.
Tensions with the United States could strengthen conservatives by reinforcing long-held distrust of the West.
The crisis escalated further after a US air raid in January that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, and led to a tense confrontation in which Iranian forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.