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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