April 13, 2024

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Iranian elections: Vote counting begins as reports indicate low turnout

Iranian elections: Vote counting begins as reports indicate low turnout
  • Written by Thomas Mackintosh
  • BBC News, London

Image source, Getty Images

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Friday's election is seen as a crucial test of legitimacy and national support for Iran's leadership – but turnout was expected to be low

Iran has begun counting votes for parliamentary elections and elections for major religious bodies, with unofficial reports indicating that Friday's vote saw the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The elections were the first since the widespread protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurd, while in police custody in September 2022.

She was detained on charges of violating Iran's strict dress code for women.

More than 61.2 million Iranians are entitled to vote.

Two separate ballots were held on Friday: one to elect the next members of parliament, and the other to elect the Assembly of Experts.

The council selects and supervises Iran's most powerful figure and the supreme commander of the armed forces, the supreme leader, who makes decisions on issues such as social freedoms and economic conditions.

Iran has been hard hit by international sanctions, the economic crisis, widespread hardship and violent unrest.

Although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on people to cast their votes, many Iranians are divided over whether or not to participate.

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An Iranian woman shows her finger covered in ink after casting her vote at the Ershad Mosque in northern Tehran

Early polls on Friday indicated that voter turnout could be at a new record low, and is believed to be particularly low in the capital, Tehran.

The state-linked polling agency expected turnout in the parliamentary elections to reach 41%, which, if accurate, would be the lowest turnout in the past 12 elections.

Caroline Davies, the BBC's first correspondent in Tehran since 2019, reporting on the elections

Video explanation,

Watch: BBC correspondent Carrie Davies visits a polling station in Tehran as voting begins

With votes being counted manually, counting votes in Iran takes time. Some results have been announced. According to the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, most of the members of the Assembly of Experts were counted in major cities.

This council consists of 88 Islamic clerics who are responsible for choosing the next supreme leader when the time comes – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 84 years old and the new council will last for eight years.

Some city councils have announced about 50 of the 290 parliamentary seats so far. The final results are likely to be clear tomorrow.

No official turnout figure has been announced. Analysts pointed out that the low turnout would be a manifestation of disappointment with politics after many officials in the country called on voters to go to the polls.

The Supreme Leader, who cast his vote first, said: “Vote as quickly as possible. The eyes of Iran's friends and those who wish it ill are on the results.”

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