Despite the voluminous and biased reporting about the conclusions that should be drawn from Iran’s recent Majles (Consultative Assembly) elections, the results signify next to nothing. Hundreds of candidates are disqualified from running by the Council of Guardians (COG) if they are judged to be opposed to the current Islamic regime, or on grounds of “moral turpitude” and other reasons that would be irrelevant in a true democracy. When given the limited choice from a thoroughly vetted set of pro-regime candidates, all of whom favor Islamic rule, the people will always vote for the more “liberal” of the alternatives. This is hardly surprising in a country where the existing martial, theocratic order remains highly unpopular.
Whatever the balance in the Majles between hardliners and those members who may be a bit more flexible on some economic and social issues, it matters little. There will always be a significant number of deputies who are former IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) men, and who will hector a President’s cabinet members and political allies about decisions which run afoul of “deep state” institutions.