Iranian parliamentary candidates began their one-week campaign today for the ninth parliamentary elections, but practically all opposition groups have boycotted the elections to protest the continued house arrest of the opposition leaders, as well as the detention of political prisoners after the last presidential elections.
Iranian media report that campaigns got underway today at 8 AM and will continue until next Thursday.
The Fars news agency has quoted an “informed source” saying candidates are prohibited from entering televised debates.
According to parliamentary elections laws, any form of advertisement for candidates through the state broadcaster, the podium of the Friday mass sermons or any other government medium is prohibited.
In the 2009 presidential elections, debates between candidates were aired on national television for the first time.
The results of the 2009 presidential elections led to mass street demonstrations against the alleged vote-rigging in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The government cracked down fiercely on protesters and the candidates who challenged the results, referring to the protests as sedition.
Many government officials have said the charged television debates between candidates helped trigger the protests, which threw the Islamic Republic into one of its most serious crises since its foundation.
Government critics and the main reformists organizations have announced that they will not participate in the election, insisting that the “military and security” atmosphere of the country does not allow for “open and transparent” elections.
While the reformists are sitting out the elections, the conservatives have been cleaved into two major groups, with one following senior cleric Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani on one hand, and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi on the other. Conservatives who have been highly critical of the Ahmadinejad administration have also separated themselves from the main body of conservatives and are running under a separate banner called “Voice of the People.”