Iran Starts Registration of Candidates for Parliamentary Elections

It is still unclear which political factions will compete in the elections scheduled for March 2; so far, only the conservative faction has declared its platform for the next four-year legislative term.

Iran on Saturday started registration of the candidates for the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2, official news agency IRAN reported.

The registration period will continue through December 30.

Iran parliament - AP - November 27, 2011

It was unclear which political factions would compete in the elections.

So far only the conservative faction that dominates the current parliament has declared its platform for the next four-year legislative term.

Probable contenders would be from the faction close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami.

But the pro-Ahmadinejad faction is branded by the conservatives as the "deviant current" due to its alleged efforts to undermine the system by adopting a nationalistic rather than an Islamic approach.

The reformist wing is also branded a "conspiracy current" by the conservatives due to its direct involvement in the street protests following the controversial 2009 presidential election.

That election was overshadowed by fraud charges, and reformists refused to acknowledge the re-election of Ahmadinejad. Several reformist leaders were arrested after the election, some of whom are still in jail.

Khatami wants the reformists to run in the March elections, but most of the reformist parties prefer a boycott due to lack of freedom and the ongoing house arrest of two main opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi, since February.

According to the constitution, the senate-like Guardian Council will review the ideological qualification of the candidates and has the authority to disqualify anyone considered disloyal to country's Islamic system.