Polling stations opened in Iran on Friday in the first parliamentary elections since mass protests swept the Islamic Republic in 2022, triggered by the death of Jina Mahsa Amini while in custody. "Voting for the 12th term of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the 6th term of the Assembly of Leadership Experts began following an order by the interior ministry," state TV reported, using the official name of the Iranian parliament. State television said that polling began at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT), and it is scheduled to last for 10 hours but can be extended.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast a ballot in a vote that will decide which of the around 15,000 candidates will gain seats in the 290-member parliament.

Voter turnout was expected to be low, with data from the state-owned polling center ISPA predicting a turnout of 23.5% in the capital, Tehran, and 38.5% nationally based on a survey of 5,121 voting-age people. The election is unlikely to cause any major upsets with the conservative hardliners holding a tight grip on the electoral process. Ballots will mostly undergo a manual count and final results might not come for three days, although partial results could appear on Saturday.

Opposition groups and activists have been expressing their discontent over the vote on social media under the hashtags #VOTENoVote and #ElectionCircus and say the election legitimizes the country's leadership. Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate and women's rights advocate, Narges Mohammadi, has labeled the election a "sham."

Iran has faced some of its worst political turmoil since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with mass anti-government protests in 2022-2023 and the vote is being seen as the first measure of public opinion since those demonstrations. Iran has also been severely impacted by international sanctions which have contributed to an economic crisis. It has also been drawn into the tensions that have been bubbling over in the Middle East region since the Israel-Hamas war began, with pro-Iran groups in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen involved in clashes with either Israel or its Western allies.