TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's constitutional watchdog, the hard-line Guardian Council, reversed a ban on 1,500 candidates who had registered to run in Feb. 26 parliamentary elections, state media reported on Saturday.
The report on Iranian state TV on said a list of approved candidates has been conveyed to the Interior Ministry. It said over 6,200 candidates have been approved to run for the 290-seat parliament.
The council, which is responsible for vetting candidates, had disqualified a large number of moderates, but it's not clear how many of the approved candidates are considered to be reformists. Over 12,000 hopefuls had initially registered for the election.
While some hard-liners and conservatives had also been barred, reformists were the most affected. Many were disqualified because they were not seen to be sufficiently loyal to the ruling system, as defined by the Guardian Council members.
Nine moderate parties issued a statement last month complaining that only 30 of the 3,000 reformist candidates fielded across the country were allowed to run.
The upcoming vote is seen as a showdown between hard-liners and moderates, who hope for a boost in the wake of the newly implemented nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions.
Reformists had registered in large numbers, hoping that many of them would survive the screening process even if their best-known figures were disqualified. But they expressed shock at the size of the initial mass disqualifications.
Prominent reformist Hossein Marashi said moderates intend to strongly contest the vote, seeking to curb the power of parliamentary hard-liners.
"We won't boycott the elections despite the difficulties we have faced. In districts where we don't have candidates, we may support moderate conservatives to defeat extremists," he said.