Iran elections extended twice amid predictions of low turnout

More than 61 million of the country's 85 million citizens are eligible to vote but regime critics call for boycott

Iranians vote in parliamentary election

Iranians vote in parliamentary election
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Iranian authorities on Friday extended voting twice in the elections to select members of parliament and a key clerical body amid predictions of low turnout and with conservatives expected to tighten their grip on power.

State TV announced two consecutive two-hour extensions in voting, taking the close of the polls to 10pm.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was the first to cast his ballot at the Imam Khomeini Hussainia polling station in central Tehran.

“Vote as soon as possible … today the eyes of Iran's friends and ill-wishers are on the results. Make friends happy and disappoint enemies,” the supreme leader said.

Since the last elections, Iran has been badly affected by international sanctions that have led to an economic crisis. It has also been rocked by widespread protests and drawn into escalating regional tensions over the Israeli war on Gaza.

More than 61 million people out of Iran's population of 85 million are eligible to vote for MPs as well as the clerics of the Assembly of Experts, the body in charge of selecting Iran's supreme leader.

A poor turnout was expected, however, after a state TV poll found more than half of respondents were indifferent about the elections.

State-owned polling centre ISPA had estimated a turnout of 23.5 per cent.

The country's last parliamentary elections in 2020 had a turnout of 42.57 per cent – the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mr Khamenei on Friday urged people to vote, saying “onlookers from all over observe the affairs of our country; make [Iran's] friends happy and ill-wishers disappointed”.

He had previously warned that Iran's “enemies want to see if the people are present”, adding that otherwise “they will threaten your security in one way or another”.

Candidates for parliament are vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are either appointed or approved by the supreme leader.

They have approved a total of 15,200 candidates, out of nearly 49,000 applicants, to run for seats in the 290-member parliament.

Conservatives and ultraconservatives, who hold 232 out 290 seats in the 2020 parliament after reformist and moderate candidates were disqualified from running, are expected by analysts to dominate once again.

A coalition of parties called the Reform Front said it would not take part in “meaningless, non-competitive and ineffective elections”.

Updated: March 01, 2024, 7:20 PM