Iran will be holding its parliamentary election this week and according to reports, the hardliners are set to tighten their grip on power after Guardian Council headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified thousands of reformist candidates. As per reports, applications of more than 7,000 candidates were rejected by the Council, a move that received criticism from several politicians including President Hassan Rouhani. Khamenei, however, has backed the watchdog saying that the country's parliament has no place for those who are scared to speak out against foreign enemies.
The recent move by the Guardian Council has ensured that the hardliners dominate the upcoming election. By removing moderates and conservatives the Council has ensured that the voters have no choice but to vote for either the hardliners or the low-key conservatives who are loyal to Khamenei. As per reports, conservatives back the ruling theocracy like the hardliners but are more open to foreign engagement.
After the deadly November protest over fuel price hikes followed by the killing of top Iranian military commander by the United States and the unfortunate downing of Ukrainian aircraft, the upcoming poll is also being seen as a referendum on the ruling establishment. As per reports, many Iranians are furious over the handling of the November protest that saw hundreds of people killed in a crackdown by the Revolutionary Guards. People are also angry over the accidental shooting down of the Ukrainian passenger plane that killed 176 people, mostly Iranians. After days of denial, Iran admitted that the Guards accidentally shot down the plane.
As per media reports, hardliners will also benefit from a low voter turnout. Many people in Iran believe in the establishment as they feel it is their religious duty to vote. A hardline official while talking to the media said that Iran is not only Tehran and other major cities, the epicentre of the November protests. People will vote in small towns, cities and generally in rural areas, suggesting that they will win even if people from cities don't turn up in large numbers. The election is scheduled to be held on February 21.