Tribal Hands and Ethnic Votes: Ethnicity, Regionalism and Elections in Iran

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Ethnic politics is a serious domestic challenge in Iran. Non-Persian communities are mobilizing to claim their rights and to demand representation in a system that activists claim is biased against minorities and the peripheral regions. Yet the inner workings of contemporary Iranian ethnic politics are largely understudied. This article explores recent evolutions in the role that ethnicity, regionalism and tribalism plays in Iranian domestic politics. It focuses on how these interconnected factors figured in the 2013 presidential and local council elections in Iran in a particular province that has a history of ethnic tensions. Incidentally, these elections brought Hassan Rouhani, a moderate cleric, to power as president. Among his electoral promises was to end the securitization of the minority issue. This article illustrates some of the barriers to a transformative ethnic politics – barriers that political leaders will have to overcome to enact real change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)2534-2550
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 106418996