Iranians vote in huge numbers

February 27, 2016 - 0:0

TEHRAN – Iranians thronged to the polls on Friday to decide who makes up the country’s Majlis (parliament) and the Assembly of Experts.

At stake in the elections are 290 and 88 seats in Majlis and the Assembly of Experts respectively, where the coalitions of “principlists” and “moderate reformers and pro-government candidates” were pitting against each other.

Having casted his ballot, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “Whoever likes Iran and its dignity, greatness and glory should vote. Iran has enemies. They are eyeing us greedily. The elections should disappoint the enemies.”

President Hassan Rouhani also said, “We respect any Majlis with whatsoever makeup,” emphasizing elections are the symbol of “political independence.”

More than 6000 candidates were jostling for Majlis and 161 for Assembly of Experts, a clerical body which constitutionally can select and dismiss leader.

In Tehran, two 16-strong coalitions, one led by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Hassan Rouhani and the other by Ayatollah Ahmad Janati and Mohammad Yazid (current chairman of the Assembly of Experts), vied for 16 seats in the Assembly of Experts election. However, there were 7 candidates figuring in both lists.

More than 55 million of Iranians, out of almost 80 million, were eligible to vote, according to Hossein-Ali Amiri, a senior election official with the Interior Ministry.

For the parliamentary election, “principlists” formed a coalition led by Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the main slogan of which was economic flourishing.

On the contrary, the coalition of parliamentary candidates supported by the reformists and moderates, called “the list of hope”, was led by former presidential candidate Mohammadreza Aref.

The “list of hope” campaigned to create bullish business and “rest of mind” for citizens.

Each of the coalitions had their own list distributed to the public both for parliament and the Assembly of Experts.

---Zarif says nuclear deal was result of election

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the elections a proof of “religious democracy”, which according to him, propelled the nuclear deal and the easing of sanctions on the country.

Zarif was indirectly hinting at the 2013 election, when the Iranians voted overwhelmingly for the incumbent Rouhani which made a resolution of the nuclear dispute with the West a priority during his presidential campaign.

Participation at the elections demonstrates the Iranians’ support for the system, he told reporters when casting his vote.

It proves the fact that the world should talk to the Iranians with the language of “respect” and not “pressure”, the foreign minister noted.

Haddad Adel, who acted as the spokesman of the principlist coalition for the parliamentary election, said that elections are a “political festival,” conveying the message of “national solidarity and power.”

Guardian Council Chief Ayatollah Ahmad Janati said the members of the future parliament should follow the position of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in countering the hegemonic system.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who ran for parliament from the shrine city of Qom, also said the future parliament should focus on solving economic problems.

New decisions should be taken to help boost the economy, he added.

Also, Head of Presidential Office Mohammad Nahavandian noted the people’s “political participation” means “economic participation,” because “political strength” will make inroads into economy.

---Zoroastrian cleric: Election is symbol of unity of Iranians

Behzad Nikdin, Zoroastrian cleric in Isfahan, said, “Elections are the symbol of the real unity of Iranians.”

Nikdin said enemies are envious of unity among Iranians.

He told IRNA that “Every Iranian Zoroastrian is a Muslim, and every Muslim Iranian is a Zoroastrian. We are one spirit in two bodies with Iranian and Islamic identity.”

NA/PA