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EghtesadOnline: Despite the disqualification of a large number of reformist hopefuls, an Iranian lawmaker said the reformist camp is intent on increasing voter participation through advocating for the inclusion of candidates from all sides of the political spectrum in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Dismissing rumors that reformists will boycott the parliamentary poll, Ramin Nourqolipour, a member of the pro-reform “Hope” faction in the Majlis, told ICANA that reformists are in fact encouraging greater turnout. 

The 11th round of parliamentary election is due Feb. 21, Financial Tribune reported.

The lawmaker noted, “The attendance of candidates representing all parties can boost voter participation. We are hopeful that the Guardians Council [the electoral watchdog] will reconsider some of the disqualifications.”

The Oversight Board of the Guardians Council, the main entity in charge of vetting candidates, disqualified a host of reformist nominees in the early stage of the process. 

Some disqualified candidates have filed complaint with the council and are waiting for its final decision on the matter.

The parliamentarian said although some pro-reform candidates have been barred by the council from competing for a seat in the parliament, “the faction is still committed to the country’s political system.”

 

 

Mounting Concerns

Nourqolipour is not the only parliament member who has voiced concern over the mass disqualification of reformist-minded candidates. Hassan Rasouli, head of the central election office of a pro-reform coalition, said that the Guardians Council’s approach is unprecedented. 

“All across the country, the reformist parties either do not have any [approved] candidates or have very few. According to the Interior Ministry, there is essentially no competition over 158 parliamentary seats.” The candidates will contest for 290 seats in the February election. 

Members of the Reformists’ Policymaking Council also said in a statement that the perquisite to an actively-participated election is the possibility of holding a “competitive, fair and legal” election, IRNA reported.

The statement added that high voter turnout can “insure” the country against outside pressure and internal conflicts.

“If there is no substantial shift in the status of reformist candidates, the party cannot introduce a list in a majority of constituencies and the results are predictable in advance.”

The reformist faction’s outstanding parliamentary electoral victory in 2016 when they swept all 30 seats in the highly influential Tehran constituency was the direct result of a coalition that was formed after top faces in the party issued one single list of candidates for the public to vote for. 

This year the party intends to perfect the practice for the 11th round of parliamentary elections by launching the Reformist Survey System, a website that allows pro-reform figures to vote on who gets to be included in this year’s list.

 

Vote Iran majlis Reformists parliamentary election High Turnout voter participation disqualification participation