When Iran held its parliamentary elections a few weeks ago, we witnessed extreme efforts by the Guardian Council to screen out and put obstacles in the path of candidates who did not fit the bill of the Iranian regime – reformists and women, for example.
Following the elections, reformists claimed a victory of sorts – due to the fact that some reformist candidates (out of those who were allowed to run in the first place) managed to win seats in the country’s legislative body.
Now, even those reformist candidates (and particularly women), who were able to overcome the obstacles and win seats in parliament, may see their achievement reversed: according to a recent report in Al Monitor, at least one incoming reformist female lawmaker – sociologist Parvaneh Salahshouri, one of the faces of Tehran’s “list of hope,” profiled in The Guardian last month – has faced fire for suggesting that head-coverings, which are obligatory for Iranian women today, will become a matter of choice in the not-so-distant future. Another female parliamentarian, this time a veteran one, was sued by female members of parliament for making a dirty joke on video. The qualifications of two other reformist candidates, among them female lawmaker Soheila Jeoldarzadeh, were also reportedly challenged.
It’s been just three weeks since the landmark vote in which 14 women were elected, leading some outlets to declare women the “winners” in the vote. Al Jazeera even declared women make gains . In its aftermath, we can be skeptical The Atlantic poised the question who really won the Iranian elections, presenting two opposing narratives.
As time goes by, we are now seeing yet more proof of Iran’s flawed democracy, in which the sovereign is not the Iranian people (men and women alike), but rather a regime of mullahs where diversity and calls for reform cannot “win,” and where reformist achievements can be challenged, delegitimized or outright reversed.
Perhaps, instead of asking “Who won the elections”, we should focus on what happens after the elections.