Iranian Public Attitudes Before & After Parliamentary Elections

Publication Date: 
March 2016
Description: 
CISSM Report
Project: 
Security Cooperation with Iran: Challenges and Opportunities
The Program for Public Consultation
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

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Summary of Findings

1. Views of the Conduct of the February 2016 Majlis Elections
Four in ten Iranians say the Majlis (Iran’s Parliament) elections were very fair, and another four in ten think they were somewhat free and fair. Also, eight in ten say they were at least somewhat satisfied with the final makeup of the candidates for whom they could vote.

2. Views of the Outcome of the Majlis Elections: President Rouhani & his Critics
A large majority of Iranians say they voted for candidates who were supporters of President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani still enjoys high levels of popular support in Iran. Nearly eight in ten Iranians continue to have a favorable opinion of Rouhani. Yet the percentage saying they have a very favorable opinion has consistently eroded since August 2015, soon after the nuclear deal was reached.  Two thirds support greater economic engagement with the West—a Rouhani agenda. While views about the current economic situation have not improved, optimism has grown, with more than half now thinking that the economy is getting better.

3. Views of the Outcome of the Majlis Elections: Principlist, Reformist, and Independents
In terms of the preferred candidates’ political orientation, roughly equal proportions say they voted for the Principlists, Reformists, and independents. While those who voted for Reformist candidates were more likely to say they voted for pro-Rouhani candidates, a majority in all three groups said they voted for pro-Rouhani candidates, suggesting that Rouhani’s support is broad-based. 

4. Priorities of the Next Majlis
The most important issues Iranians want the new Majlis to tackle are unemployment and Iran’s low-performing economy. Majorities are optimistic that the new Majlis will move Iran in the right direction. Majorities also express confidence that the new Majlis will be successful in reducing Iran’s unemployment, improving its relations with other countries, and improving its security. 

5. Civil Liberties in Iran
Two in three Iranians believe that it is important for President Rouhani to seek to increase civil liberties in Iran, and seven in ten are hopeful that the next parliament will be successful in this. However, only one in eight complain that Iranians have too little freedom. Three in four continue to think that Iranian policymakers should take religious teachings into account when they make decisions.

6. Approval for the Nuclear Deal
Seven in ten Iranians approve of the nuclear deal Iran and the P5+1 countries reached in July 2015.  However, the percentage saying they strongly favor the deal has declined substantially. Also, views of the deal have become more aligned with political attitudes: while a large majority of those who favored pro-Rouhani’s candidates continue to favor the deal, among those who favored Rouhani’s critics, support has declined so that views are now divided. Iranians are also becoming increasingly less confident that the United States will live up to its obligations under the nuclear deal. Despite their endorsement of the deal, four in five Iranians see the development of an Iranian nuclear program as very important.

7. Iran’s Involvement in the Region
Majorities think Iran should increase the role it plays in the region, its support of groups fighting ISIS, and its support for the government of Bashar Assad. At the same time, eight in ten Iranians approve of Iran participating in the international talks on the conflict in Syria, and an overwhelming majority approve of Iran collaborating with other countries to end the conflict in Syria.  Although as recently as last August, a clear majority approved of direct Iranian cooperation with the US to counter ISIS in Iraq, yet views are now divided.