Gov’t Firm on Upholding Political Freedoms

Gov’t Firm on Upholding Political FreedomsGov’t Firm on Upholding Political Freedoms

A senior official highlighted the outstanding role of political parties in the recent presidential election, saying that the government is set to uphold "legitimate political freedoms and oppose extremism".

Ali Asghar Ahmadi, deputy interior minister for political affairs, said the high turnout of over 73% in the election was mainly achieved through people's political understanding promoted by various parties, which indicates "high political awareness" among the ordinary people, IRNA reported.

Addressing the recent seasonal conference of House of Parties, he underscored the key role of parties across the political spectrum and said "parties are instrumental in achieving our goals."

House of Parties is a non-governmental organization consisting of legal and registered political parties that aims to minimize differences between members. It has joined the International Conference of Asian Political Parties and currently has 186 members.

Iranian Constitution recognizes the formation and activity of political parties. Article 26 states that under the general framework of freedom of association, the formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations is permitted. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them.

While Iranians enjoy vast political and social freedoms by regional standards, Iran has been unfairly chosen as fair game for western criticism in the past. This is while in a number of countries in the region, where some states have not even held an election, women are not allowed to vote or participate in polls. In contrast, Iranian women have always had a large turnout in elections as well as an active role in society. They currently occupy 17 seats in the parliament, with numerous female members elected in city and village councils.

"No reports of skirmishes, more than 73% turnout and the outstanding role of political parties all indicate that people went to polls while they were aware of [current political and social] circumstances," the deputy minister  added.

  Room for Improvement

Ahmadi pointed to some faults in the election law, saying there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed in this regard.

"Defining rajol, setting age limits for presidential candidates and using e-voting machines in future elections are among issues in the elections law [that needs consideration]," he said.

The constitution stipulates that presidential candidates should be "from among religious and political rejal".

The word rejal has two connotations. It means distinguished persons, but is also the plural of rajol, man. Hence, this statement may be read to require a male president. Some Islamic scholars take the word in its literal sense; others favor its non-gendered connotation.

Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei announced the general policies on elections in 2016, requiring the branches of government to, among other things, mend the law concerning the definition of rajol and urged the Interior Ministry to " benefit from new technologies" in the upcoming elections.

E-voting machines were used in one-sixth of polling stations across the country, numbering about 11,000, to cover one-third of the eligible voters in the last round of city and village council elections held concurrently with the presidential election in May.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints