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Record 12,000 candidates for Iran elections


Iran political candidates

Iranian hopefuls wait to register their candidacy for either the upcoming parliamentary or the Assembly of Experts elections at the interior ministry in Tehran on December 21, 2015 (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

More than 12,000 candidates have signed up for Iranian parliamentary elections due in February, the most since the Islamic revolution in 1979, official media said Saturday.

The number of people who registered to stand before a Friday deadline was up nearly 100 percent compared with the previous legislative polls in 2012, the interior ministry said.

At the close of registration, the number of candidates stood at “12,123, of whom 1,434 were women,” state news agency IRNA quoted the interior ministry as saying.

Women accounted for 11 percent of the hopefuls for the 290 seats available in the February 26 vote, up from eight percent last time.

The proportion of candidates below the age of 50 increased from 67 percent to 73 percent. The youngest candidate to apply was 30 years old, and the oldest 75.

However, the final number of candidates is expected to be lower after the Guardians Council vets applications, with a final list published on February 9.

Voting will be held on the same day as the election for the Assembly of Experts, which monitors the work of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 76, and would be responsible for picking a replacement if he dies.

A total of 801 candidates applied to run for the 88-seat assembly, although this number is also likely to decrease after they have been screened by the Guardians Council.

President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in 2013 on the platform of more social and political freedom, has largely dedicated the first half of his four-year term to nuclear negotiations that culminated in a July deal with major powers.

The agreement will see punishing economic sanctions rolled back in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear programme.

Rouhani, who faces a re-election battle in 2017, plans to devote the rest of his term to economic and social reforms.

To achieve that, he is hoping for the support of a majority of lawmakers in the next parliament.

Rouhani has faced vocal opposition from conservatives in the current parliament, including on the nuclear deal.

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