Political Participation in Iran’s Parliamentary Elections: Between Two Competing Narratives

By Alireza Raisi
Submitted to Session P4966 (Political Parties, Attitudes, and Elections, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
The paper uncovers determinants of political participation in Iran’s electoral authoritarianism by studying the role of institutional and socio-economic variables in parliamentary politics of the 2000s. The paper argues that Iran’s electoral system has dichotomized the pattern of participation between center and periphery. The dynamic of participation in the center stems primarily from national shifts in the factional rule and controlled politics by the Guardian Council. However, political participation in provincial peripheries has been motivated by personal connections and particularistic demands of constituents. The personal connection between MPs and citizens mediates the impact of the socio-economic concerns of individuals, cultural elements, ethnicities and kinship ties. This argument draws on statistical analysis of parliamentary turnout in Iran and the study of several Iranian newspapers and official reports. The findings of the paper suggest a new mechanism by which institutional settings may shape the pattern of participation more generally.