Iranian Legislative Election, 2004 - Background

Background

The first round of the 2004 elections to the Iranian Parliament were held on February 20, 2004. Most of the 290 seats were decided at that time but a runoff was held 2½ months later on May 7, 2004, for the remaining thirty-nine seats where no candidate gained sufficient votes in the first round. In the Tehran area, the runoff elections were postponed to be held with the Iranian presidential election of June 17, 2005.

The elections took place amidst a serious political crisis following the January 2004 decision to ban about 2500 candidates — nearly half of the total — including 80 sitting Parliament deputies. This decision, by the conservative Council of Guardians vetting body, "shattered any pretense of Iranian democracy", according to some observers.

The victims of the ban were reformists, particularly members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), and included several leaders. Prominent banned candidates included Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mohammad-Reza Khatami and Jamileh Kadivar. In many parts of Iran, there weren't even enough independent candidates approved, so the reformists couldn't form an alliance with them. Out of a possible 285 seats (5 seats are reserved for religious minorities: Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians), the participating reformist parties could only introduce 191 candidates. Many pro-reform social and political figures, including Shirin Ebadi, asked people not to vote (although some reformist party leaders, such as those in the IIPF, specifically mentioned they would not be boycotting the elections). Some moderate reformists, however, including President Mohammad Khatami, urged citizens to vote in order to deny the conservative candidates an easy majority.

Conservative political groups included the Militant Clergy Association and the Islamic Coalition Society. Liberal–reformist groups included the Militant Clergy Society, Islamic Iran Participation Front, Construction Executives, and Worker's House.

The day before the election, the reformist newspapers Yas-e-no and Shargh were banned.

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