Iranian legislative election, 2008

Iranian legislative election, 2008

14 March and 25 April 2008

All 290 seats to the Islamic Consultative Assembly
146 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 51%[1]

Alliance Principlists Reformists
Last election 196 47
Seats won 195 51
Seat change 1 4
Percentage 67.2% 17.9%
Electoral lists

Speaker before election

Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel
Alliance of Builders

Elected Speaker

Ali Larijani
United Front

Legislative elections for Majlis of Iran were held on 14 March 2008,[2] with a second round held on 25 April 2008.[3] Conservatives loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were considered the victors of the election, at least in part because "all the most prominent" reformist candidates were disqualified from running.[4]

Qualification of candidates and campaign

A few months before the election on December 14, 2007, twenty-one moderate and reformist parties formed a coalition centered on Mohammad Khatami to increase their chances in the election.[5] However, around 1,700 candidates were barred from running by the Guardian Council vetting body, the Supervisory and Executive Election Boards,[6] on the grounds that they were not sufficiently loyal to the Iranian revolution.[7] These included 90% of "independent and reformist candidates,"[8] 19 sitting MPs, and Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson, Ali Eshraghi, who complained,

"What saddens me most is the method of discernment used [by the Council of Guardians]. . . . They had asked my neighbors if I pray my daily prayers, or fast? Does my wife respect the Hijab? Do I shave? Or smoke cigarettes? What kind of car do I drive, and do I dress in a suit!"[9]

Another candidate, Ayatollah Mousavi Tabrizi, protested his disqualification on the grounds of "lack of belief in law and in Islam,"[10] noting that he was not only an ayatollah and a member of the scientific board of the theological seminaries of Qom, but he had earlier qualified to run for the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body whose functions include selection of the supreme leader.[11]

With the elimination of reformists, the election has been described as a "contest between conservatives who still support" president Ahmadinejad, and conservatives who don't,[12] or "hard-liners generally in sync with Ahmadinejad and ... `pragmatic conservatives,` ... unsympathetic" to him.[13]

Reformist leaders pushed for Iranians to vote in parliamentary elections, hoping to prevent a sweep by hard-liners allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[14] Allies of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seized the largest share of parliament seats, vote counting nearly completed everywhere in the country except for the capital, Tehran, on March 16, 2008. Conservative critics of Ahmadinejad won a substantial bloc in the legislature, highlighting the growing discontent with the president's fiery style and failure to repair the ailing economy of Iran. Reformists, who seek greater democracy in Iran and closer ties with the West, showed strength in some cities where the clerical leadership allowed them to compete. Reformist leaders said March 16, 2008 that at least 14 winning independents are pro-reform, bringing their bloc to 45 seats so far. If correct, that would be around the size of the reformist presence in the outgoing parliament. Iran's leaders on March 16, 2008 declared the country's parliament elections, which were carried by conservatives, a victory that showed Iranians' defiance of the West. The United States and Europe called the vote unfair after most reformists were barred from running.[15]

The National Front boycotted the elections.[16]


Inter-Parliamentary Union
 Summary of 14 March/25 April 2008 Parliament of Iran election results
Orientiation of candidates Seats
(1st rd.)
(2nd rd.)
Conservatives 143 52 195 67.2%
Reformists 31 20 51 17.9%
Independents 29 10 39 13.4%
Armenians (reserved seat) 2 2 0.6%
Assyrian and Chaldean (reserved seat) 1 1 0.3%
Jewish (reserved seat) 1 1 0.3%
Zoroastrian (reserved seat) 1 1 0.3%
Total (Turnout: 60%) 208 82 290 100%
Source: IPU
Cainer (2008)
Camp Total seats
Religious minorities5
Source: Oren Cainer[17]
Zimmt (2008)

More than half of the reformist seats belongs to the main reformist coalition and the rest are affiliated with the NTP.

Camp Total seats
Source: Raz Zimmt[18]
Farhi (2008)

According to Farideh Farhi, out of the 287 seats, approximately 170 can be identified as won by conservatives whose candidacy was supported by the two major conservative lists. United Front of Principlists won 117 seats and Principlists Pervasive Coalition won 96, while 50 were endorsed by both. A portion of conservatives, "die-hard" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supporters secured about 40% of the seats.[19]

Sanandaji (2009)
Electoral list 1◦ round 2◦ round Total seats
Religious minorities55
Source: Kaveh-Cyrus Sanandaji[20]
Mardomsalari newspaper (2012)

According to Democracy Party's organ, the conservatives won 199 seats while the reformists won 47 and 41 were independents.[21]

Zaccara (2014)
Electoral list 1◦ round 2◦ round Total seats
Reformists (including NTP)311546
Religious minorities55
Source: Luciano Zaccara[22]

First round results

Some 4,500 candidates nationwide were running for parliament's 290 seats vote, in which an estimated 44 million Iranians of over 18 years of age were eligible to vote.[14]

With less than two-thirds of the 290 contests decided by March 15, conservatives had won 125 seats, reformers won 35 and independents won 10, according to news agency Fars.[23] Another 39 winners were independents whose political leanings were not immediately known. Five other seats dedicated to Iran's Jewish, Zoroastrian and Christian minorities have been decided.[15]

Voter turnout

Anoushiravan Ehteshami, citing the ministry of interior as the source, writes that number of eligible voters were 43,824,254 and 22,350,254 votes were casted.[1]

Voter turnout in the first round is disputed. Government officials claim that as many as 65% of Iran's 49 million eligible voters took part, a solid turnout but not reaching the around 80% that flooded the polls in elections in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade). some conservative circles insisted that it was 73% or higher, "showing" popular support for the regime.[24] "Yet the Ministry of the Interior's own figures indicated a national turnout of 52%, and no more than 30% in Tehran", roughly equivalent to 2004 turnout.[25]

From amongst the 49 million eligible voters above 18 years of age announced by the Iran Statistics Center some 23 million Iranians, i.e. 47 percent, participated in the parliamentary elections of March 2, 2008. This is the lowest level when compared with the eight previous parliamentary elections. Of this amount, 30 percent of the voters came from large cities and provincial capitals while in Tehran which is the political nerve center of the country whose residents demonstrate the most political behavior, the number stood at 27 percent.[26]

According to the government’s final figures, 650,000 citizens of Tehran have taken part in the second round of the elections for the Majlis (Iranian parliament), that is less than 8% of those eligible to vote.

Second round

82 seats in which no candidate gained more than 25% of the vote in the first round held another round of voting on 25 April 2008; 11 of those seats were in Tehran.[27] Of the 164 candidates, 69 are considered to be Conservative, 41 Reformists and 54 as Independents.[28] Turnout in the second round was only about 25%.[29]

Following the election, the 8th parliament opened on May 27, 2008.[30]


Issues in the election have been described as "unemployment, inflation and fuel shortages" in a petroleum-exporting country, and increasing inequality.[12] "The price of some basic foods has doubled within the past year and rents are soaring." Influential conservative clerics are also said to be irritated by president Ahmadinejad's "folksy and superstitious brand of ostentatious piety and his favouritism to men of military rather than clerical backgrounds."[25]


  1. 1 2 Ehteshami, Anoushiravan (2017). "Politics of the Islamic Republic". Iran: Stuck in Transition. The Contemporary Middle East. Taylor & Francis. p. 63. ISBN 9781351985451.
  2. "Iran: Politicians Concerned About New Election Date". Radio Free Europe. 8 June 2007.
  3. "Electoral Calendar".
  4. Nahid Siamdoust (March 16, 2008). "What Iran's Poll Results Mean".
  5. "AFP: Iran reformists form coalition to end crisis". AFP. 14 December 2007. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007.
  6. "Election fever in Iran". ISN Security Watch. 14 February 2008.
  7. Agence France-Presse (March 14, 2008). "Reformists sidelined as Iran elects parliament". AFP via Google. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  8. "Iranians vote in general election". BBC News. 14 March 2008.
  9. Naveh-ye emam Khomeini rad-de salahiyat shod (Grandson of Imam Khomeini Disqualified), Baharestan-e Iran, February 6, 2008, translated at Iran's Parliamentary Elections and the Revolutionary Guards' Creeping Coup d'Etat Archived 2010-03-23 at the Wayback Machine., Ali Alfoneh, February 2008]
  10. Ayatollah Mousavi-Tabrizi: Be etteham-e 'adam-e eltezam be eslam va qanoun rad-de salahiyat shodam! (Ayatollah Mousavi-Tabrizi: I Was Disqualified Because of Alleged Lack of Belief in Law and Islam!), Aftab, February 5, 2008.
  11. "Salahiyat-dar bara-ye 'Khobregan' va bi-salahiyat baraye 'Majles'" (Qualified for the "Experts" and Unqualified for the "Parliament"), Noandish (Tehran), February 5, 2008
  12. 1 2 Fathi, Nazila (March 15, 2008). "Turnout Uneven in Iran Elections". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  13. "The Persian Pragmatists , March 21, 2008 , The New Republic". Archived from the original on March 25, 2008.
  14. 1 2 "Reformers question point of voting in Iran". CNN. 14 March 2008.
  15. 1 2 "Iran: Vote is victory against West". CNN. 16 March 2008.
  16. Michael Rubin (28 January 2008), Iran News Round Up, National Review, retrieved 3 March 2017
  17. Oren Cainer (December 2008), "following International Insights Parliamentary Elections in Iran: An Indicator for the 2009 Presidential Election?" (PDF), following International Insights, Toronto: Canadian International Council, 5 (5)
  18. Raz Zimmt (June 2008), "Iran's 2008 Parliamentary Elections: A Triumph of the System", The Middle East Review of International Affairs, Herzliya, Israel: Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, 12 (2)
  19. Farhi, Farideh. "Iran's 2008 Majlis Elections" (PDF). University of Brendies. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  20. Kaveh-Cyrus Sanandaji (2009), "The Eighth Majles Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran: A Division in Conservative Ranks and the Politics of Moderation", Iranian Studies, Routledge, 42 (4): 621–648, doi:10.1080/00210860903106345
  21. Rasouli, Habib. "آرايش سياسي مجلس نهم". Mardomsalari. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  22. Luciano Zaccara (2014), "Elections and Authoritarianism in the Islamic Republic of Iran", in Mahmoud Hamad and Khalil al-Anani, Elections and Democratization in the Middle East: The Tenacious Search for Freedom, Justice, and Dignity, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 153–178, ISBN 9781137299253
  23. Fathi, Nazila (March 15, 2008). "Reformers Gain in Iran Vote Despite Being Barred". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  24. Fars (Iran), March 15, 2008. Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2008; Rooz (Iran), March 17, 2008.
  25. 1 2 "International: Back to first principles; Iran's election." The Economist. London: March 22, 2008. Vol. 386, Iss. 8572; pg. 70
  26. Archived May 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  27. "Iran awaits second poll results". BBC News. April 25, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  28. 26. September 2013, 08:05 . "Zweite Runde der Parlamentswahl im Iran (International, NZZ Online)". Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  29. 26. September 2013, 08:05 . "Konservative gehen gestärkt aus Stichwahl in Iran hervor (International, NZZ Online)". Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  30. "Iran's new parliament opens". May 27, 2008.
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