Explaining Iranian elections: Will 2016 be a turning point?

Explaining Iranian elections: Will 2016 be a turning point?

February 26 won't be a regular day in Iran. It happens to be the day for the 10th parliamentary election in the Islamic republicโ€™s history. This vote is particularly important because it will decide whether or not Iranian President Hassan Rouhani can move ahead with his reform agenda.

Two main political currents in Iran: Who will win?

The reformists and the centrists versus the neo-principlists and the hardliners are the two key powers in Iran's politics. In these elections, the reformists are supporting Rouhani, leader of the centrists who successfully reached a nuclear agreement with the United States in July 2015, with aims of generating economic growth and expanding social and political freedoms.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo credit: Blogs.r.ftdata.co.uk

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo credit: Blogs.r.ftdata.co.uk

President Rouhani has two choices in order to stay in power. He can either bring his own centrist allies to parliament or grow closer to the traditional principlists who already dominate the legislature.

The neo-principlists are most likely to strengthen their majority in parliament and influence the direction of Iranian politics for at least the next two years, since they represent a strong opposition against Rouhani and his allies, while the hardliners may not be able to mount a successful electoral campaign.

Public's position on nuclear deal

These will also be the first elections since the nuclear deal was signed and since the West began to lift sanctions. So the number of votes that the reformists will get can reveal the public's position on the nuclear deal.

Many believe these elections are the right opportunity for Rouhani and allies to re-enter Iranian politics after their 2009 defeat, after they managed to gain key positions in local government, winning a majority in city council elections.

Elections in numbers

The new parliament will consist of 290 members who will be in power for four years. Until now, over 12,000 candidates have registered to participate in the upcoming election of which 11 percent are women.

Cover photo credit: Iranwire.com

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