[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] on Sunday released a report [text] outlining serious flaws in the Iranian electoral system which they say are damaging prospects for free and fair parliamentary elections on February 26th. The report states that this is due to Iranian authorities not allowing the majority of candidates to run due to discriminatory and arbitrary criteria, as well as the fact that many political activists and journalists remain in prison for exercising their rights. In order to become a candidate in Iran, a person must be approved first by the Ministry of the Interior [official website, in Persian] executive boards and then by the Guardian Council [BBC backgrounder]. Although the executive boards have initially approved of approximately 90 percent of the potential candidates, the Guardian Council has only approved of 40 percent of them. The report points to various arbitrary powers of the Guardian Council that allow it to disqualify candidates that have opposing political views or associations with certain political groups. The report also notes that prominent political activists who remain in prison for exercising their rights are effectively barred from running because of their incarceration.
Elections continue to present issues to governments and lawmakers around the world. In December the Armenian Electoral Commission announced [JURIST report] that Armenia's constitution will be amended, even though opposition MP's and independent European observers have alleged serious irregularities in the voting process. In November Guinea's Constitutional Court validated the reelection [JURIST report] of President Alpha Conde amid allegations of fraud and rigging. In October the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil banned [JURIST report] corporate entities from providing funding to political candidates in the future. The court found that the large role corporations played in campaign funding was unconstitutional and compromised the legitimacy of the elections. In July Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected to a third term [JURIST report], leading to public protest and international criticism. Although the election resulted in Nkurunziza receiving 69 percent of the vote, the Constitution of Burundi states that presidents shall be universally elected into office for a term of five years and can renew the term only once. Prior to the vote, Nkurunziza's opponents boycotted the election [JURIST report] claiming it is unconstitutional for a president to seek a third term.