The Iranian electoral system includes the conduct of elections to elect officials at various levels: national level (presidency, Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis [Parliament] and Assembly of Experts; and municipal levels. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, there have been 28 national electoral processes, including 3 referendums. However, a/ the absence of legal political parties since 1987 and b/ a pre-electoral filtering mechanism by the Guardian Council, have created a particular mechanism of party organization and electoral political game before the electoral process.
The Iranian political elite is organized in associations and flexible electoral alliances that can change their support depending on the various electoral contests, or according to specific positions on issues, mainly in the economic and political debates in Parliament.
This paper attempts to explain the operation of the factions grouped around electoral lists and parliamentary groups, from the creation of the Republic until the legislative elections of 2008. It will identify permanent trends, and the ability to control the core agencies of power in Iran through institutional arrangements and alliances with powerful groups’ side, as the bazaar or provincial elites. It also describes the various partnerships in the different electoral processes, proving that the elections can serve as mechanisms to settle intra-elite disputes.