On 26 February, Iranians will go to the ballot box for two important elections: firstly, for Iran’s parliament; secondly, for the ‘Assembly of Experts’.
The 290-seat parliament has serious influence: it can issue formal questions to the executive and must approve the annual budget, ministerial appointments, and all international treaties. The Guardian Council has already excluded many reformist parliamentary candidates from the running, but it is still difficult to predict the make-up of the next parliament, which will have a major influence on Iran’s immediate future.
The other election is perhaps more important. For it is the 88 members of the Assembly of Experts which formally appoints the Supreme Leader, who is by far the most powerful individual in the Islamic Republic.
When the Supreme Leader is young and healthy, the Assembly of Experts is not centre stage. When the Supreme Leader’s is old and his health failing the Assembly of Experts moves into the spotlight.
Ayatollah Khamenei is 76 and is battling cancer. So the outcome of the forthcoming Assembly elections will very likely impact the selection of the next Supreme Leader, and thereby shape the long-term future of Iran.