Fact Check: Did the Guardian Council qualify 45% of Assembly of Experts candidates?
Siamak Rahpey is a member of the Guardian Council and the spokesman for the Council’s election monitoring committee. Mr. Rahpey has claimed that “45% of the registered candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections have been qualified.”
According to Mr. Rahpey, 801 candidates registered for the 5th Assembly of Experts elections, though the final figure for submitted candidacies “was 794, since there was a number of candidates who submitted incomplete files and their [initial] registrations were not finalized.”
Moreover, Mr. Rahpey also indicated that out of those “794 candidates, 158 individuals withdrew their names and terminated their candidacies, 111 candidates were not legally qualified, and 152 candidates did not participate in the written test. The total number of candidates who withdrew or were absent from the test and were not legally able to participate was 421.”
The spokesman has stressed that “the Council reviewed the qualifications of 373 individuals: 207 were disqualified and 166 were ultimately qualified.”
The question at hand is whether the figures that Siamak Rahpey has presented are correct and were produced in accordance with the Assembly of Experts election law and executive regulations.
The Legal & Regulatory Context
In order to fact check Siamak Rahpey’s remarks, a review of the Assembly of Experts election law and executive regulations is necessary.
Based on Article 3 of the Assembly of Experts election law, approved candidates should have the following qualifications: “a reputation for honesty, credibility, and moral competence; a level of Ijtihad in a way that the individual has the power to contemplate and analyze issues related to jurisprudence; the candidates should also be able to identify velayat-e-faqih [the qualified person for the supreme leadership]; the individuals should be familiar with the issues of the day, believe in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ruling system, and lack criminal records.” The law also emphasizes that the jurists and legal experts of the Guardian Council are the eligible individuals to veto or endorse that the candidates have the above-mentioned qualifications.
In neither the Assembly of Experts election law nor in its executive regulations is there mention of classifications like “illegal candidate,” “not participating in the written test,” or “absentees from the Ijtihad test” to describe the potential status of candidates for the Assembly of Experts. While Siamak Rahpey announced that 111 candidates were eliminated because they were considered “illegal,” 152 candidates were crossed out from the list because they “refrained from participating in the written test,” and a total of 263 candidates were eliminated from the qualification process for unspecified reasons.
There are four classifications mentioned in the Assembly of Experts election law that define the status of candidates: withdrawal, qualified, disqualified, and candidates whose qualifications are not “approved.”
Mr. Rahpey has also stated that the “qualifications of 373 candidates were reviewed and out of this number 207 candidates were disqualified and 166 candidates were qualified.” On January 9, 2016, Nejatollah Ebrahimian, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, announced that the “cases of all candidates should be individually reviewed and voted on in the meetings of the Guardian Council’s jurists.” The documents of the registered candidates should be fully reviewed by the members of the Guardian Council, which then classifies them as “qualified” or “disqualified” candidates and sends final vote information to the Interior Ministry, Mr. Ebrahimian added.
According to the Assembly of Experts election law and its executive regulations, the Guardian Council jurists are charged with reviewing all of the documents that the registered candidates have submitted and announcing their votes as simply ‘qualified’ or ‘disqualified’.
Mr. Rahpey’s Mathematics
Siamak Rahpey has claimed that “45% of the Assembly of Experts candidates were qualified.” A review of this claim indicates that it is based on the following formula:
- Out of 801 files, only 794 files were completed = 7 candidates were eliminated at initial registration.
- Out of 794 completed files, 158 candidates withdrew their files = 636 remaining candidates.
- Out of 636 candidates, 111 candidates were disqualified under the pretext of being “illegal” = 525 remaining candidates.
- Out of 525 candidates, 152 were eliminated since “they did not participate in the written test” = 373 remaining candidates.
- The Guardian Council vetted 373 candidates and 207 were “disqualified” = 166 candidates ultimately qualified, or 45% of the candidate applicants that made it to this last stage of the qualification process.
The above equation demonstrates that Siamak Rahpey has concluded that 45% of candidates were qualified because he only took into consideration candidate numbers at the last stage of the qualification process. The figures with which Rahpey worked are the 166 qualified individuals out of the 373 last-stage candidates, and he came up with his 45% figure (rounded up from 44.5%) on this basis.
Complete Qualification Figures
Based on the Assembly of Experts election law and executive regulations, even if one takes Mr. Rahpey’s figure of 794 candidate applicants as a starting point, a complete breakdown of the figures will look as follows:
- Out of 801 registered candidates, 794 files were eligible to be reviewed and vetted = 7 candidates eliminated.
- Out of 794 candidates, 158 candidates withdrew their files = 636 remaining candidates.
- Out of the 636 remaining candidates, the jurists of the Guardian Council qualified only 166 candidates = 470 candidates ‘disqualified’.
Based on the provisions of the Assembly of Experts election law and executive regulations, out of 794 candidates, only 166 candidates for the 5th Assembly of Experts elections – equal to 20.9% of total candidate applicants – were qualified (close to 21%).
The Guardian Council has qualified only 166 candidates, representing 26.1% of the individuals who did not withdraw their candidacies after initiating the qualification process. 470 or 73.9% of those candidates were ultimately disqualified by the conservative-dominated Council.
As a result of this review of the facts, we rate Siamak Rahpey’s claim that 45% of the candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections were qualified as “false.”