Crucial Majlis Runoffs on Friday

Crucial Majlis Runoffs on FridayCrucial Majlis Runoffs on Friday

With the conclusion of the one-week campaigning period for the Majlis runoff elections, the stage is set for 17 million eligible Iranians to cast ballots on Friday and determine which faction wins the majority in the next parliament.

Electoral efforts by 136 candidates, who launched their campaigns last Thursday in the hope of grabbing one of the 68 vacant seats of the 290-member house, was to come to an end at 8 a.m. local time, 24 hours before the elections begin.

The first round of the polls was held on February 26, in which over 34 million Iranians, out of 55 million eligible people, cast ballots in 31 provinces to elect representatives of 207 constituencies from over 4,700 contenders, which meant a 62% voter turnout.

Electoral returns showed that 222 candidates had made their way to the parliament, but the fate of the remaining seats in 55 constituencies, where nobody could garner at least 25% of the votes, is to be decided in the Friday runoff.

Unlike the primary votes, there are no minimum requirements for winning in runoffs and earning a simple majority of the votes will be enough for becoming a lawmaker.

The elections will begin at 8 a.m. in up to 15,000 polling stations across 21 provinces. The political event will last for 10 hours, but the body in charge of conducting elections, the Interior Ministry, will extend the period if necessary.

  Head-to-Head Contest

According to Tasnim News Agency, 57 principlist candidates, 41 reformists, four pro-government moderates and 34 independents will run in the race.

The results of the February votes indicated that no side could obtain an outright majority. Principlists had 46% of the seats and reformists 37.5%. The remaining 16.5% belonged to government backers and independents.

In view of the fact that in the last three parliaments, reformists were badly defeated by rival principlists and had only a tiny minority, the election produced impressive gains for them.

In the capital Tehran, which has the largest share of seats among all constituencies, reformists who fielded a joint list of candidates with pro-government contenders scored a big win and secured all the 30 seats.

Close ties between reformists and pro-governments forces have already guaranteed the formation of a government-friendly Majlis.

Mohammad Hossein Moqimi, head of the Election Headquarters, said in an interview with state television on Tuesday night that a head-to-head contest between reformists and principlists is underway in many electoral districts.

"In most of the constituencies, a bipolar contest is taking place. The competition in this round is extremely tight," he said.

Moqimi also said according to the law, people who cast their ballots in the primary round in a constituency where runoffs will be held, are only allowed to vote in the same constituency and those who did not vote at all can cast ballots in any constituencies.

Hence, those who voted in constituencies in which there will be no second round cannot cast their ballots in other constituencies.

The closing session of the current parliament will be held on May 24 and the new parliament will open on May 28.