Iran General NewsThousands of Iran election candidates face ban

Thousands of Iran election candidates face ban

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Reuters: About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran’s March parliament election “have a record” with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run. TEHRAN (Reuters) – About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran’s March parliament election “have a record” with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run.

Alireza Afshar, head of election headquarters, did not elaborate on what kind of record they had, but hopefuls in past votes in a similar position were barred.

A pro-reform politician said having a record meant being blocked from standing.

The result of the election will have no direct impact on who is president, or on policies such as Iran’s nuclear program, which is ultimately determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But political analysts say the outcome may influence the debate, and could give President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more political challenges.

The electoral statement, carried by ISNA news agency, may add to concern among reformists that many of them will not be allowed to take part in the vote because of an official vetting process.

“Out of 7,200 registered about 3,000 had intelligence (ministry) and judiciary records, which is more than the previous parliamentary election, when there were about 1,800 who had records,” Afshar told ISNA.

The comments suggest these hopefuls would not even be reviewed by the conservative-controlled Guardian Council, which vets candidates and which has stopped hundreds of reformist candidates in the past.

Reform-minded opponents of Ahmadinejad hope to benefit from growing disenchantment with the hardline leader in the March 14 election.

They are seeking a political comeback after they were beaten by conservatives in a 2004 parliamentary election.

Analysts say reformists have a better opportunity to improve their standing now because many Iranians criticize Ahmadinejad for failing to deliver on promised economic change, including sharing out Iran’s oil wealth more broadly.

Analysts do not expect reformists to win a majority in the 290-seat parliament.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

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