Iranian Polls Open for Parliamentary Election
Iranians began to vote on Friday morning in the country’s eleventh legislative elections since the Islamist takeover in 1979. All 290 seats are up for grabs in the Majlis, or parliament, in what is being seen as something of a referendum on the policies of President Hassan Rouhani and a sky-high spike in tensions between Tehran and Washington over US economic sanctions and mutual military attacks. State media reports say there are some 58 million eligible voters and that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told them it is their religious duty to go out and vote, with some 250 parties in the running. According to figures released earlier by the government, the country’s Guardian Council, controlled by Khamenei, barred about 9,000 candidates from standing in the election. While such decisions are nothing new, the number is said to be much higher than usual, with one analyst telling The Media Line this reflects the authorities’ concerns over the current instability. Polling places are scheduled to remain open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are concerns that the coronavirus might have an impact on voter turnout, with Iran having reported two deaths on Wednesday and three new cases in the country on Thursday.