Approval – For Now: Parliamentary Candidacy Reviews Underway
The quartet of reviewing bodies have announced the results of the first round of the parliamentary candidate qualification review: from 12,123 candidates, 810 have been disqualified from running in Iran’s tenth parliamentary elections. The reviewing bodies, however, do not have the final say in the qualification of parliamentary candidates. The electoral district implementation councils and the Guardian Council have the ultimate authority to approve or disqualify candidates in the final qualification review.
The Supervisory Board of the Guardian Council has the authority to go against the verdict of the reviewing bodies and to qualify or disqualify a candidate based on a thorough background check. The qualification of candidates happens in a two-tier process. During the first tier, the reviewing bodies determine whether or not a candidate has the desired qualifications – for example, a university degree. Then, during the second tier of the assessment, the electoral district implementation councils and the Guardian Council verify the evidence that supports the qualification of the candidate – for example, the candidate’s commitment to Islam.
The media often refer to candidate qualification as a one-step process: Guardian Council approval or disapproval. This is a common mistake that is prevalent among provincial authorities and many conservative media outlets.
However, in accordance with presidential orders, background checks at the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Intelligence, the Police, and the National Organization for Civil Registration are part of the candidate review process. These institutions are in charge of conducting thorough investigations in order to determine a candidate’s suitability. These reviews happen before the Guardian Council conducts more thorough background checks on candidates. The Guardian Council does not limit its research to the matters considered by the four reviewing bodies. It relies on its staff on the ground conducting local research to find evidence to qualify or disqualify candidates.
Many lesser-known candidates become victims of the time it takes to conduct a thorough background check, and many are disqualified. The existing method to verify parliamentary candidates thus limits ordinary people’s rights to take part in parliamentary elections, and can result in the loss of civil rights and the violation of the constitution’s provisions concerning political participation.