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Politician In Iran Says Without Free Elections Participation 'Meaningless'

Iranian Reform camp politician, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh. File photo
Iranian Reform camp politician, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh. File photo

While Iran has begun registration of candidates for parliamentary elections set for February 2020, a prominent pro-reform figure says running for a seat is "meaningless" under the countries current conditions.

Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, the last spokesman of the so-called reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), was responding to a tweet that asked why he is not registering as a candidate. He pointed out, it is meaningless to run for parliament when candidates must be vetted by the Guardian Council (GC), according to Iran’s Constitution.

The GC was set up to vet candidates according to their religious and ideological commitment to the Islamic Republic, automatically excluding opponents. Since it is currently packed with hardliners, politicians such as Ramazanzadeh believe it will reject prominent reformists.

The elections are scheduled to be held Feb. 21 and the new parliament will begin work in May.

However, many voters in Iran are already confused about whether to participate in the next parliamentary elections or not.

The Iranian electorate has, at times, pinned its hopes on reformists during elections and handed them victories, starting with Mr. Khatami's first election as president in 1997. But every time, conservatives supported by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the hardline military have quashed hopes of reforms in favor of a less restrictive political and social environment.

In addition, many activists and citizens on social media are questioning the elections at a time when the government has killed hundreds of protesters and is refusing to be held accountable. Many have demanded an independent investigation, which can show who was responsible for issuing the order to security forces to open fire at protesters. The government has not even announced the number of casualties or a clear report of how many were arrested. Independent media and human rights organizations say nearly 8,000 have been detained.

"The country has reached a point that Iran would not return to the right path, in the absence of a free election, Ramazanzadeh has noted.