Iran’s next parliamentary elections are set for March 2, 2012, the interior ministry has announced. The parliament also passed a law today requiring that parliamentary candidacy be restricted to people with e post-graduate degrees. Former MPs are exempted from this condition.

The Guardian Council, which gives a final review to laws passed by the parliament, had previously rejected a similar bill for requiring parliamentary candidates to hold graduate degrees, saying it violated paragraphs 8 and 9 of Article 3 of the constitution.

Paragraph 8 of Article 3 emphasizes the need to facilitate public participation in determining Iran’s political, economic, social and cultural destiny.

Paragraph 9 of this Article focuses on the need to prevent discrimination and to create fair opportunities for all.

Despite this, Iranian lawmakers have 135-45 to make a graduate degree a requirement for candidacy for the parliament.

The bill must still be approved by the Guardian Council before becoming law.

Critics of the bill say this criterion for parliamentary candidacy gives the general population less opportunity to participate in the elections. However, proponents claim the rise in Iran’s level of education should be reflected in the eligibility requirements for MPs.