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Thursday April 18, 2024

Iran election turnout hits record low

Friday’s election was seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s legitimacy amid mounting economic struggles and a lack of electoral options

By REUTERS
March 05, 2024
An Iranian man casts his ballot at a polling station in Tehran, during elections to select members of parliament and a key clerical body, on March 1, 2024. — AFP
An Iranian man casts his ballot at a polling station in Tehran, during elections to select members of parliament and a key clerical body, on March 1, 2024. — AFP

DUBAI: Turnout in Iran’s parliamentary election was around 41 percent, the country’s interior minister said on Monday, the lowest participation since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution that swept the clerical rulers into power.

Friday’s election was seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s legitimacy amid mounting economic struggles and a lack of electoral options for a mostly young population chafing at political and social restrictions.

“Some 25 million people out of over 61 million eligible Iranians voted in the March 1 election for the 290-seat legislature,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told a televised news conference.In the 2020 parliamentary election, turnout was 42.5 percent. About 62 percent of voters participated in 2016.

Authorities said the turnout “indicated the people’s trust in the sacred system of the Islamic Republic”.Vahidi said invalid votes made up 5 percent of the total vote count. Some Iranian media reported that number to be as high as 30 percent, suggesting signs of disillusionment even among core supporters of the Islamic Republic.

“Authorities should listen to the silent majority ... and reform the governance method ... I hope they realise before it’s too late to reverse the damage and harm this path will cause,” state media quoted reformist politician Azar Mansouri as saying.In some constituencies, where candidates failed to get the required minimum 20 percent of the votes cast, a run-off will be held in April, Vahidi said.