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Majles Shoraye Eslami (Islamic Parliament of Iran)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Majles Shoraye Eslami / Islamic Parliament of Iran
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) (from/to)14 March 2008
25 April 2008
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in the Islamic Consultative Assembly on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
The 2008 elections were the eighth to be held since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In January 2007 the minimum voting age was raised from 15 to 18 years. There is no party system and the main political forces are generally considered to be conservatives (often referred to as principle-ists or fundamentalists) and reformists. In the previous elections held in February 2004 conservatives won over 150 seats while reformists took 40. The remainder went to independent candidates.

Conservatives uphold the principles of the Islamic Revolution and are divided into two main groups: the United Principle-ist Front (UPF) and the Broad Principle-ist Front (BPF). The UPF supports President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was elected in 2005 on the pledge to bring oil revenues to every family and tackle poverty and unemployment. The BPF had supported Mr. Ahmadinejad in 2005 but reportedly shifted its support to the former chief nuclear negotiator Mr. Ali Ardeshir Larijani who resigned from the post in 2007 citing differences with President Ahmadinejad.

Reformists advocate press liberalization and the promotion of civil society organizations in the country. In December 2007 former President Mohammad Khatami announced that he would lead the Coalition of Reformists in the 2008 elections. This Coalition comprised the Islamic Iran Participation Front founded by Mr. Mohammad Reza Khatami (the former president's brother) and the Organization of Mujaheddin of the Islamic Revolution and Civil Servants led by former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Nearly 7 600 citizens submitted candidacies for the 2008 elections. Around 40 per cent of these were rejected as "unsuitable" by the Guardian Council (a body of clerics and jurists whose responsibilities include ensuring compatibility between legislation and Islam). Many of the rejected candidates - including former ministers and outgoing members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly - were reportedly members of the Coalition of Reformists.

In the end around 4 600 candidates were allowed to run. Women accounted for 8 per cent of candidates down from 10 per cent in the 2004 elections.

At stake were 285 of the 290 seats in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (the remainder being reserved for religious minorities see note).

The economy and the nuclear programme took centre-stage in the campaign. Both reformists and some conservatives criticised President Ahmadinejad. Although the country's official unemployment rate was 10 per cent many experts argued that the real figure was higher. Conservatives (in particular the UPF) argued that the government's nuclear policy was key to the Republic's defence from "all forms of foreign hegemony". Reformists accused President Ahmadinejad of mishandling ongoing negotiations on the nuclear programme and promised to establish better relations with the West.

Approximately 50 per cent of the 49 million eligible voters turned out at the polls on 13 and 14 March while only 26 per cent participated in the run-off elections of 25 April.

A total of 45 000 national observers worked under the supervision of the Interior Ministry. There were no foreign observers.

The Guardian Council validated the results for 205 seats (including the five reserved for religious minorities) in the first round. Another 81 candidates were elected in the run-off elections. The results for four seats (one from the first round and three from the run-off elections) were invalidated by the Guardian Council and would be decided in by-elections to be held at the same time as the 2009 presidential elections.

The final results showed that conservatives had won about 200 seats. Reformists took about 50 seats and independents obtained about 40. Following the results some independent candidates joined the conservative and parliamentary groups bringing the total seats for conservatives to 210 and for reformists to 60. Some 20 members of parliament remain independent. In all eight women were elected down from 14 in the outgoing legislature.

The newly elected Islamic Consultative Assembly held its first session on 27 May. On the following day it elected Mr. Larijani as its temporary Speaker. He was confirmed as the official Speaker on 1 June.

Five seats are reserved for the following minorities.
Zoroastrians: 1
Jews: 1
Assyrian and Chaldean Christians: 1
Armenian Christians in the north of the country: 1
Armenian Christians in the south of the country: 1
Voter turnout
Round no 114 March 2008
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
24'240'269 (49.47%)
Round no 225 April 2008
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes

5'443'161 (26%)
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Eight women were elected in the 2008 elections. Four seats that were vacant following the 2008 elections were filled through by-elections which were held at the same time as the presidential elections in June 2009. Male candidates won all the seats. The number of women thus remains at eight.
Source: Islamic Consultative Assembly (05.05.2008 18.08.2009)

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