Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves as he stands next to a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after he registered for February's election of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that chooses the supreme leader, at Interior Ministry in Tehran December 21, 2015.
Raheb Homavandi / Reuters

Despite the obvious constraints, elections in Iran—whether for the Assembly of Experts, the presidency, the parliament, or even the regional municipalities—can still tell observers a lot. And they also matter; they can be the difference between the slow wearing down of the hardliners’ outsized control or the further consolidation of power in their hands.

The coming February 26 elections for the Assembly of Experts are particularly consequential. First, the elderly Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s poor health raises the likelihood of a succession sometime within the next eight years (the tenure of the next assembly). Second, given that the assembly also brings together many of the regime’s leading clerical grandees, one of its members may be selected to take his place as Iran’s next Supreme Leader. Third, these elections have been scheduled and later delayed to coincide with the parliamentary elections, potentially boosting voter turnout. Understanding the institution

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  • KEVJN LIM is an independent researcher, Senior Analyst for the UK-based Open Briefing: The Civil Society Intelligence Agency, and consultant analyst for IHS. 
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