On Friday, Iran holds elections for its Parliament and for the Assembly of Experts, who choose the next Supreme Leader. While the Iranian Parliament is not particularly powerful as an institution, the election is still very important. And given the age and possibly poor health of Iran’s current Supreme Leader the Assembly of Experts could very well see action soon, and given how much power the Supreme Leader has, this makes their election incredibly important. The elections are being seen as a referendum on President Rouhani’s term thus far, and on the nuclear deal. But indeed, the elections are about the future of Iran itself.
Right now, there are two main camps battling for control of Iran’s government, and for Iranian hearts and minds: the hard-liners and the reformists. Both sides have strong bases of support and can both realistically hope for victory in the elections. The hard-liners can count on structural advantages, such as the disqualification of many reformist candidates and the short campaigning season (only a week long), to boost their chances, backed by deep support among various segments of the population. The reformists will be boosted by Rouhani’s success over the last few years, the high expected turnout, and the increasing feeling of optimism in the country.
Whichever sides wins these elections will be given a massive boost in momentum in the battle for Iran’s soul. This is an election we should all care about, given the importance of Iran in the Middle East region. This is an opportunity for the people of Iran to let their voice be heard. At the very least, I will be listening.