Power Versus Choice

Human Rights and Parliamentary Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Iranians voted on March 8, 1996, to elect 270 members of the parliament, or Majles, in an election process that severely limited citizen participation. Parliamentary elections could represent a real contest for power in Iran’s political system—but only if arbitrary bans on candidates and other constraints on political life are lifted. As the campaign period opened on March 1, the government-appointed Council of Guardians had excluded some 44 percent of the more than 5,000 candidates on the basis of discriminatory and arbitrary criteria, significantly impairing access to the political process and citizens’ freedom of choice.

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