Iran is holding a high-stakes parliamentary election Friday. In mid-January, the conservative Guardian Council surprised some observers with the massdisqualification of reformist candidates in Iran’s upcoming parliamentary elections. This institutional gambit was partially rescinded a few weeks later, after a new review of the qualifications of the candidates. While the disqualifications show that the conservatives still hold the reins of power in Iran’s political system and set the terms of the game, as the reversals signal, they cannot dictate the final results or eliminate competition.
With the successful negotiation of the nuclear agreement, the coalition that backed President Hassan Rouhani on the deal will begin to fragment as factional rivalries and infighting increase and once again shape political competition inside Iran. The electoral results, however, will not have a significant impact on the continued implementation of the nuclear agreement. Instead, the conservative establishment in Tehran seeks to maintain leverage over Rouhani on broader international developments as well as domestic matters. In particular, these elections will be more important in determining the future path of development Iran chooses and how economic reform will be undertaken by the Rouhani administration.