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The Iran Primer

Election Results 3: In Tweets

The following tweets are snapshots illustrating results of and reaction to the February 26 elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts. 

Top Leaders



Etemad’s front page on February 29 read:

Reformist electoral list wins landslide victory in Tehran; all 30 candidates on the list elected






Current parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani ran as an independent and won his seat. 









Reaction and Commentary


Election Results 4: Newspaper Headlines

Iran’s diverse newspapers portrayed the results of Iran’s elections differently depending on their political affiliations. Reformist paper Shargh Daily called the elections a "decisive victory" for centrist and reformist allies of President Hassan Rouhani and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, both of whom won seats in the Assembly of Experts. Hardline paper Kayhan, however, ran the headline "Principlists Hold National Majority," emphasizing instead the large share of parliamentary seats secured by conservatives. The elections took place on February 26, or the seventh of Esfand in the Iranian calendar. The following is a rundown of front pages in Iran after election day.

Reformist papers 

Translation: "Epic of hope: The people of Iran turned the 7th of Esfand [Election day] into an unforgettable day with their attendance"
Aftab-e Yazd 

Translation: "Breeze of Victory: Early statistics from counting the votes across the country tells the story of people’s widespread support of the List of Hope, which is related to the reformists"


Arman-e Emrooz
Translation: "The people finished their work: A day of value for Iranians"


Translation: "The final results of the Assembly of Experts election in Tehran: Hashemi sitting on top"


Shargh Daily 

Translation: "Decisive victory of the list of hope in Tehran: Hashemi and Rouhani at the top of Assembly of Experts"


Translation: "All 30 individuals" 


Translation: "Moderate principlists separated their way; Everybody came with hope"



Hardline and Conservative Papers 


Translation: "Reflection of the elections in the foreign media: The world watches Iranian patriotism"
Translation: "Grandeur of national power"
Translation: "The 7th of Esfand [Election day] became immortal: Viva the nation"
Translation: "Day of nation’s judgement"




Translation: "Iranians’ enemies dumb-struck: With maximum attendance at the ballot box, the people accepted the Supreme Leader’s call"



Translation: "A nation’s show of strength: The filling of the ballot boxes emptied the heart of the enemy"


Translation: "President: We respect any Majles composition"
Vatan Emrooz
Translation: "Iran’s vote to Principlists"

Translation: "Principlists Hold National Majority"


Translation: "The big lie: 111 is greater than 153!"



Centrist papers 

Translation: "Hopeful presence"




Translation: "Nation's acceptance of leader, elites"


Photo credits: Iran Front Page 


Election Results 1: Parliament

Garrett Nada and Katayoun Kishi 

The resounding message from voters on February 26 was a rejection of hardliners and an endorsement of President Hassan Rouhani. The largest faction in Iran’s new Parliament will be an array of moderates, conservatives and independents, who won more than half of the seats decided in the first round. Several dozen seats, which did not meet the threshold of 25 percent, will be contested at a run-off in April. So far, some 68 percent of lawmakers in the new Parliament will be newcomers, according to Shargh DailyThe vote may help Rouhani push forward long-stalled promises of reform opposed by hardliners, who have dominated the last three parliaments, since 2004. 
The election turnout was 62 percent, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli. The election was the first since the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers concluded in July 2015. In the meantime, diverse Iranian media outlets have reported the story as if their preferred political groups did well in the election. Media and monitoring groups differed over the distribution of seats. The following is a rundown of key winners and losers. 
The Winners
The Universal Coalition of Reformists, dubbed the “List of Hope” by former President Mohammad Khatami, won the second largest number of seats nation-wide. In Tehran, the group won all 30 seats. The list was headed by Mohammad Reza Aref, a former presidential candidate and a vice president under Khatami. It blended in centrist supporters of President Hassan Rouhani from the “Alliance of Reformists and Government Supporters.” The list associated itself with the success of the nuclear deal, the lifting of international sanctions, and increasing normalization of Iranian political and economic relations with the outside world. It also supported greater personal and political freedoms. Its logo and slogan was “the second step,” or the sequel to Rouhani election in 2013. For this coalition, the election was also a referendum on the direction the country has taken under Rouhani. 
Many reformist candidates were disqualified by the 12-man Guardian Council, so the coalition was dependent on lesser known candidates. Endorsements from former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as well as Khatami gave the List of Hope a key boost.Khatami, whose image is banned from the media, issued a handwritten message about the elections. The following are excerpts:
  • “The impressive attendance of people during the Assembly of Experts and Parliament elections has this message that people want to preserve security, advance the country, and strengthen the system.”
  • “People want action on the slogans and plans that our honorable president has offered, and the people have voted for this.”
  • “…it is the administration and other branches of government, and in particular the honorable representatives of the people’s, turn to serve these people and meet their demands, in particular to attempt to develop the economic boom, open up people’s lives, and create an open space and healthy politics.”  
The group also tapped a few high-profile conservatives, such as Ali Motahari and Kazem Jalali—who ran with other slates as well. Motahari is a moderate conservative lawmaker who has criticized the government for putting the two Green Movement leaders and former presidential candidates under house arrest. Motahari actually fielded his own independent list called “Voice of the Nation.” In an interview before the elections, he said that hardliners do not place enough emphasis on freedoms while reformists do not pay enough attention to cultural issues.
In one of the quirks of the campaigns, Motahari also appeared on the reformist List of Hope, but he said the group added his name at their request. At a campaign rally, on February 23, he called for the removal of the “artificial wall” between reformists and principlists. Motahari has taken hardline stances on social issues. For example, he has opposed allowing women to enter sports stadiums. But he has also challenged policies of Iran’s security services and hardliners. In 2015, he spoke out against the widespread arrests of journalists by the Revolutionary Guards. In January 2016, he opposed the presence of Basij militia units in residential areas.
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who ran as an independent, won his seat from the holy city of Qom. On February 29, as election results were announced, he praised the rotation of political power from one group to another as an auspicious development. Larijani has referred to himself as a principlist, but he was largely supportive of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. Larijani chose not to join the main list of hardliners. “I feel our friends in the [conservative coalition] have not provided the necessary mechanisms for the creation of unity…Therefore we seek to act independently,” he said. Yet he won the backing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force, who cited Larijani’s long support of “revolutionary movements.”
Women won 14 seats in the first round of the election—a record high--and are in the running to win as many as six more in the runoff. Nine women are in the outgoing Parliament. Of the 14 who have secured seats, eight ran on the “List of Hope.” 
Parvaneh Salahshori, who won as a reformist on the “List of Hope,” said women should be allowed to choose whether or not to wear the hijab, a sensitive subject in the Islamic Republic. She criticized conservative female lawmakers who have supported legislation restricting women’s rights.  She also “We want to empower our women, we want to empower our young people,” she told Italian journalist Viviana Mazza on February 29. “We are here to fight against [gender] discrimination.”
The main conservative list, the Grand Coalition of Principlists (which refers to support for a rigid interpretation of revolutionary principles) won more seats than any other group outright. Conservatives, however, will not have nearly as much sway over the next Parliament as compared to the last 12 years. The hardliners were largely opposed to Rouhani’s policies. Principlists campaigned on Rouhani’s failure to deliver on promises of economic benefits from a nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions.
The list’s slogan was “Livelihood, Security, and Progress.” It appeared on yellow banners at rallies and posters across the country. Unlike reformist candidates, the Guardian Council approved a large number of conservative and hardliners. As a result, candidates from the conservative list contested seats in provinces across Iran. One campaign poster in Isfahan asked voters which political faction they would rather have protecting them if ISIS fighters entered Iran.
The Losers
In Tehran, the Grand Coalition of Principlists failed to win any seats. It was headed by Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, a member of parliament since 2000 and the first non-cleric to become speaker, in 2004. He has close ties to the supreme leader, as his daughter is married to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba. In a tweet, Haddad-Adel said that he was happy about the joy of fellow citizens who voted for his rivals. 
In the picture below, Haddad-Adel leaves Parliament through a door marked “exit.”
Esmail Kowsari, a prominent lawmaker and member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, was also on the list. During the nuclear negotiations, he criticized the approach of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. In 2014, he attended a conference entitled “We’re Worried” – advertised as “the great gathering of critics of a weak deal”— held at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Kowsari later accused the negotiating team of wasting the country’s time. Now that he has lost his seat, he has suggested that the results are “suspicious.”
Other candidates on the list included former advisors to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and outspoken critics of President Rouhani. They emphasized their economic backgrounds, with ten candidates who held senior economic positions in previous governments. They were hardline on foreign policy. Adel once warned against allowing American influence to permeate Iran’s economy and society. "Unfortunately, some [moderates] are embracing America and opening their arms to American companies,” he said. Six women were on the list of 30 candidates. 
Garrett Nada is the assistant editor of The Iran Primer, and Katayoun Kishi is a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace.


Election Results 2: Assembly of Experts

Cameron Glenn

Hardliners suffered a serious setback in Iran’s election for a new Assembly of Experts, a body of 88 clerics and scholars tasked with overseeing and appointing the supreme leader. Candidates aligned with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and current President Hassan Rouhani, who have urged reforms in the past, won major gains. Senior clerics backed by reformists and centrists – but who are not necessarily reformists themselves – won 59 percent of seats in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the Interior Ministry reported. They previously only held around 23 percent of the clerical body.
The Assembly of Experts has served largely as a rubber stamp organization. But this election could be significant since the supreme leader, who has been in power a quarter century, is now 76. The next supreme leader also may emerge from the new Assembly, which is comparable to the College of Cardinals in its powers to select the top religious authority. The supreme leader has the last word on political, economic and social life as well as national security issues. In December, the Assembly reportedly began drafting a list of potential successors.
Around 62 percent of Iran’s eligible voters participated in the elections. The following is a rundown of election results reported, as of February 29. The Guardian Council must approve the election results.
The Winners
In Tehran, reformist-backed clerics won 15 out of 16 seats, ousting two key hardliners. Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani placed first in the race for the 16 available seats in Tehran. Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, was known for taking a pragmatic approach to domestic and foreign policy and attempting to end Iran’s isolation. Rafsanjani is rumored to be a contender to be Iran’s next supreme leader.
Rafsanjani led an informal coalition of centrists and moderate conservatives known as the "People's Experts" list during the election. But like many other candidates, he ran on several other electoral lists as well, reflecting the fluid affiliations and wide range of political views in Iran's system.
Rafsanjani emphasized that hardliners should respect the election results. "No one has the power to resist the will of the majority of the people and whomever people don't want must step aside," he said on social media on February 28.
Mohammad Agha Emami, Tehran’s interim Friday leader, came in second place in Tehran. He ran on Rafsanjani’s “People’s Experts” list, as well as lists associated with the more conservative Combatant Clergy Association and Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom. President Hassan Rouhani, who also ran on Rafsanjani’s electoral list, placed third in Tehran. Allies of Rafsanjani and Rouhani secured 11 other seats in Tehran.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was the only hardliner to secure one of Tehran’s Assembly seats. He finished last, in 16th place, among the candidates who won seats. Jannati also chairs the Guardian Council, the powerful clerical body that vets candidates in Iran’s elections as well as all legislation to ensure it is compatible with Islam.
The Losers
In Tehran, two key hardliners – both of which had been potential contenders to replace Supreme Leader Khamenei – lost their seats in the elections. Assembly of Experts chairman Mohammad Yazdi finished in 17th place, just missing the cut off for Tehran’s 16 available seats. Yazdi had served as deputy speaker of parliament after the 1979 revolution and judiciary chief in the 1990s. He had defeated Rafsanjani in a vote for the Assembly’s chairmanship in March 2015, after the death of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.
Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, one of the Assembly’s most hardline clerics, finished in 19th place and also lost his seat. He had strongly opposed Rafsanjani and his supporters in the Assembly of Experts. He was known as a spiritual mentor to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most hardline of Iran’s presidents.
After the hardliners' loss, Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani charged that foreign governments had influenced the outcome. He accused moderates of forming a “British list” and cooperating with foreign media to defeat hardliners. “Is this type of coordination with foreigners in order to push out these figures from the Assembly of Experts?” Larijani said. The allegations prompted a retort from Vice President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht. "We don't have anything such as a 'British list',” he said. “If anyone wants to say that there is such a list, they are in fact insulting the Guardian Council.” 



Click here for more information on the Assembly of Experts 


Election Day in Iran! Color and Tweets

Iranians went to the polls on February 26 to elect a new Parliament and Assembly of Experts at a pivotal time in the Islamic Republic’s history. The following are snapshots of different aspects of the day — leaders voting, reformist and centrist turnout, hardliners at the polls, youth and women turnout, religious minorities, and commentary.

Top Leaders Vote 

Rouhani compared voting to a great business deal, saying that one hour of work yields four years of profit.

Former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist whose image is banned from the media, was mobbed at the polling station by supporters.
Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar (below) is also head of the Environmental Protection Organization. “The high voter turnout today will give Iran strong leverage in economic and political ties with the world,” she tweeted.
Reformists and Centrists

Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament, were candidates in the 2009 presidential election who led protests against the disputed reelection of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two Green Movement leaders, who have been under house arrest since 2011, reportedly requested mobile ballot boxes. Karroubi’s son told Reuters that his father had not yet had the opportunity to vote despite his decision to do so.
Hardliners and Conservatives
Lawmaker Mehdi Koochakzadeh was booed by people when he tried to skip a long line of voters. 

Youth Turnout

Women Vote
Maryam, a principilist voter, said she wants a more closed social or cultural environment. She asked, “How can it be more open than it already is?”
Religious Minorities Vote
None of Iran’s official news agencies, other than the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), reported on Khatami’s voting due to the judiciary order banning him from being shown in the media, according to Sobhan Hassanvand and Rohollah Faghihi


Foreign Influence
The Vote Itself
Electronic voting machines were used for the first time at some polling sites.
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