Factoids on Parliamentary Election

September 6, 2011

Semira N. Nikou

         This is the third in a series on parliamentary elections due in March 2012:

  • Iran’s first parliament was formed after the Constitutional Revolution in 1906. Its current parliament was created by a new constitution written after the 1979 revolution ousted the monarchy and established an Islamic republic. The first revolutionary parliament was elected in 1980. Iran has elected eight parliaments since then.
  • Average voter turnout for the eight parliamentary elections has been 63 percent nationally. But in the past 15 years, the average for Tehran province—which includes the capital city—has been 44 percent, the lowest in the country.*
  • Parliament originally had 270 seats but increased to 290 members in 2000. There may be another 20 seat increase for the 2012 elections.
  • Citizens are not confined to voting for candidates from their own district and can cast their votes in any district (or province).
  • Five seats are reserved for religious minorities—one seat each for Jews, Zoroastrians, and Assyrian-Chaldean Christians, and two seats for Armenian Christians.
  • In 2008, a combination of conservatives and hardliners won more than 67 percent of seats, while reformists won around 18 percent. The rest ran as independents. 
  • Clerics now represent 14 percent of parliamentarians, a significant decline since they held half of the seats in the first parliament.*
  • Eight women serve as deputies in the current parliament. The highest number of female MPS (14) and the highest proportion of female representatives (5 percent) were in 1996, when the total number of deputies was 270.*
  • Ali Larijani is the current Speaker of Parliament. He is Iran’s former nuclear negotiator (2005-7). His brother, Sadegh Larijani, has been the judiciary chief since 2009. The Larijani family now controls two of the three branches of government.
  • Only Iranian citizens living in Iran can vote in parliamentary elections—unlike presidential elections in which members of the diaspora can also vote.

 * Source: Duality by Design: The Iranian Electoral System published by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

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