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IRAN’S communists joined a mass boycott of today’s “sham” parliamentary elections, calling for all democratic forces to unite in struggle against tyranny, oppression and corruption.
The Tudeh Party insisted that the poll was in reality “a failed attempt to prove the legitimacy of the regime” to the international community.
It said the elections lacked credibility, warning that there “has never been and can never be a democratic and popular exercise under the supervision” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nearly 58 million people were eligible to vote for preselected lists of candidates representing more than 250 registered parties. Almost three million were first-time voters.
But the elections to Iran’s 290-seat parliament were marred the exclusion of thousands of candidates on spurious grounds.
Ayatollah Khamenei said that it was the religious duty of Iranians to vote and that they must do so if they were “interested in the country’s national interests.”
Despite his appeal, turnout was “by far the lowest in at least 25 years,” Tudeh Party international secretary Navid Shomali told the Star.
He said Ayatollah Khamenei’s call for people to take part “shows the desperation of the regime's leader.”
Mr Shomali added: “The widespread boycott of the election is unprecedented in Iran's contemporary history and we believe the majority of the people will not take part in these sham elections.”
The vote took place amid a deepening economic crisis, with inflation running at 33.5 per cent. This is partly the result of punitive US sanctions, which were reimposed after Washington withdrew from the international deal limiting Iran’s nuclear programme.
Mass anti-government protests and labour unrest erupted across the country last November, fuelled by growing anger at the clerical regime’s handling of the economy.
Thousands of people were killed and many more jailed in a heavy-handed response by the security services as the government clamped down on dissent.
Tudeh said: “Tens of millions of Iranians live below the poverty line in the most difficult conditions and are deprived of providing a minimum living for themselves and their families. Unemployment is rampant, especially among the country's youth.”
The party argued that the “staged elections” were in reality intended to rubber-stamp “the appointment of a handful of mercenaries that Khamenei and the leadership of the Islamic Republic” had chosen.
“This regime and its leader lack any credibility and authority to continue their rule,” it said.
Tudeh called for a nationwide campaign to defeat “the ruling dictatorship,” declaring its readiness to participate actively in the united struggle.
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