Parliamentary Chamber: Majlis Shoraye Eslami


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  Majlis Shoraye Eslami

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  18 February 2000
5 May 2000

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  In October 1999, the Majlis (Parliament) adopted a law giving the Council of Guardians (comprising six clerics and six jurists) broad powers to manage the 18 February 2000 parliamentary elections and raising the voting age from 16 to 17 years.

Pursuant to this law, the Interior Ministry and the Council of Guardians barred some 650 potential candidates from competing in the legislative elections on the grounds that they did not have the proper educational qualifications, were not old enough or had not resigned their posts when legally required to do so. Many of the candidates thus removed were President Khatami's more outspoken allies.

The election campaign opened officially on 10 February 2000, with candidates having just a week to appeal to voters. 6,083 candidates contested the 290 seats, 20 more seats than in the outgoing Parliament (to take account of the population increase) and 513 women, a record number, stood for the elections.

At stake were not only the 290 seats in Parliament but also the economic, political and ideological future of Iran. A victory of the coalition backing President Khatami, the May 23 Front (the date of Mr. Khatami's landslide victory in the 1997 Presidential election), would mean that the conservatives' power to hold up privatisation, block better relations with the West and harass the liberal press and those pushing for social reform would end.

The results of the first round already showed that the reformers had gained control of Parliament, reversing 20 years of hard-line control. They won 170 seats as against only 45 seats for the conservatives (including one for the former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani) and 10 for the independents. The majority for the reformists marks the first time, since Iran's 1979 revolution, that the legislature is not dominated by conservative clerics and other supporters of hard-line Islamic rule. In 65 districts where no candidate received more than 25 per cent, the seats were to be decided in run-offs.

After the first-round vote demonstrated the sustained popular appeal of reformist ideas, the conservatives started their counter-offensive in which 16 reform publications were shut down, several apparent reformist parliamentary victories were nullified and many leading activists were arrested. However, all this failed to prevent the reformists from winning a clear majority of seats in the second round of voting, on 5 May.

After large-scale demonstrations and riots by reform supporters alleging election fraud, former President Mr. Rafsanjani withdrew from the new Parliament, on 25 May, before its first sitting.

Mr. Mehdi Karroubi, an ally of President Khatami and a former Speaker from 1989 to 1992, was elected as the new Speaker of the Majlis by a large majority.

Round no 1 (18 February 2000): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 38 726 386

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
May 23 Front 170
Coalition of Followers of the Line of the Imam 45
Independents 10
Round no 2: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
May 23 Front 52
Coalition of Followers of the Line of the Imam 9
Independents 4

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 280
Women: 10
Percent of women: 3.45 %

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Copyright 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union