As Iran's March 1, 2024, parliamentary elections near, the government and political groups considered regime insiders gear up for the occasion.
The media in Iran reported early this week that Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi appointed his Political Deputy Mohammad Reza Gholamreza as the Chairman of the Election Headquarters. The appointment is self-explanatory and marks the importance of the event for the government.
Apart from the 290 members of the Iranian parliament (Majles), 88 seats of the assembly of experts are also up for grabs on the same date.
Mohammad Reza Gholamreza, the Chairman of the Election Headquarters
Less than ten months before the elections, media affiliated with various segments of the political landscape have started to play with the news to support their own possible candidates, to tarnish the image of their opponents and to spread disinformation for various reasons.
IRGC-Linked Tasnim news agency reported on Monday that former Majles Speaker Ali Larijani is planning to nominate himself as a candidate as well as presenting a list of other likeminded candidates.
Etemad online has confirmed the report after seeking the views of politicians close to Larijani who was the longest serving speaker of the Iranian parliament from 2008 to 2020. In the meantime, other news sources have reported that former President Hassan Rouhani is going to support Larijani and help him to set up his campaign. While there has been no confirmation or denial from Rouhani in this regard, Larijani later denied Tasnim's report.
Former Majles Speaker Ali Larijani
According to Ruydad24 new website, media and politicians are speculating over three different scenarios about the results of the upcoming elections and its impact on the country's political landscape.
The most optimistic scenario is that the regime will allow some moderate conservatives to enter parliament and form a weak minority against an ultraconservative majority like the one that is currently in place, wrote Rouydad24.
However, Sazandegi newspaper wrote that so far there is no indication that the regime’s core might give up the idea of consolidating power within the conservative camp. The daily added that this is a likely option for the hardliners considering the crisis of governance under their reign.
The regime has a choice between a tightly engineered election, similar to the 2020 parliamentary and the 2021 presidential votes that gave the power to hardliners or allowing more moderate insiders also to get elected.
In case of the first option, large segments of politicians and the lectorate will most likely boycott the vote, especially after the popular protests and simmering antipathy toward Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his loyalists expressed in the streets.
According to Rouydad24, the most likely scenario for the upcoming election is that the regime will stick to its current totalitarian form and would want to keep all power by allowing Khamenei loyalists to dominate the state.
Nonetheless, the protests and the deepening economic crisis have proven that a consolidated conservative government does not necessarily mean that hardliners are united. There have been serious infightings within the conservative camp this year even during recent days as a member of the parliament close to populist former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought about one of the biggest rifts between the Majles and the government by disclosing a major political and economic corruption case.
There is also the distant possibility of a proreform victory if Khamenei decides to free himself from the current political and economic impasse and allow centrists and reformists to run in the elections.