Tehran: Polls opened across Iran Friday in the country’s eleventh parliamentary election, seen as a test for the popularity of President Hassan Rouhani’s reformist-moderate camp, which has dominated Parliament since 2016.
Elections for Iran’s 290-member Parliament are set amid escalating political tensions, economic struggles and concerns about escalating tensions with the US. The spectre of the coronavirus infection that has killed two people also adds another layer of uncertainty to the electoral process.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei cast his vote in the capital, Tehran, minutes after the polls opened on Friday at 8am local time (04:30 GMT).
Voters on Friday will also choose replacements for seven deceased members of the Assembly of Experts, a body responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader.
Nearly 58 million people are eligible to vote for the candidates that represent more than 250 registered parties. All voters must be more than 18 years of age. Almost three million are first-time voters.
A total of 55,000 polling stations have been set up at mosques throughout the country. More than 7,000 candidates, including 666 women, are competing.
Long queues could be seen at the main polling station set up at Masjid al-Nabi, the main mosque in the middle-class Narmak neighbourhood where former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lives.
A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, said in a statement that 200,000 supervisors from the council were overseeing the polls throughout the country.
Polls were expected to close at 6pm (14:30 GMT). During the previous parliamentary elections in 2016, voting was extended due to a high turnout.
Also known as the Majlis, Iran’s Parliament is responsible for passing legislation in the country, approving the annual budget and ratifying international agreements and treaties.
All legislation passed by the Majlis is then approved by the Guardian Council and the President.
The Parliament has a limited say in foreign affairs, although it played a crucial role in some of the country’s pivotal moments, including in 2015 when it approved the nuclear deal with world powers.
The Majlis plays a bigger role in economic and other domestic politics.