Map of Iran's electoral districts as of 2016, classified according to the Venice Commission's guidelines

2016/02/17
Theme: 

Since its ratification in 2003, the Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters has been recognized as an international standard for elections-related matters. These guidelines include a section on equal voting power for all voters, which cites the population of electoral districts as an important element in establishing fairness and equality in voting power. The Venice Commission's recommendations specify that apart from rare cases, the extent to which the population of an electoral district deviates from the national average “should not be more than 10%, and should certainly not exceed 15%.”

The map below shows Iran’s electoral districts according to their population-to-seat ratio as of 2016. By this measure, the districts are divided into four groups.

The red electoral districts are those with population-to-representative ratios that exceed the national average of all districts by 15 percent or more. These districts have a very high population relative to the number of Majles seats allocated to them. According to the Venice Commission’s guidelines, such districts are unacceptable and their situation should be promptly addressed. Residents of these districts have a voting power that is very low compared to the national average, meaning their voices are not heard in the Majles. As the map shows, many highly populated areas and big cities fall into this category, but on the other hand, so do some districts in the southeast and northwest of the country. The latter regions are home to Sunni-majority areas with districts that have high population-to-representative ratios, which could mean that the rights of local residents are disregarded.
The pink districts have population-to-representative ratios that deviate from the national average by between 10 and 15 percent. Although the Venice Commission’s guidelines discourage this state, these districts are nevertheless better off than the previous group.

The white districts have population-to-representative ratios that deviate from the national average by less than 10 percent. This group is considered to be in a suitable state.
The blue districts have population-to-representative ratios that fall below the national average by 15 percent or more. These districts have a very low population relative to the number of Majles seats allocated to them. As a result, the residents of these districts enjoy very high voting power in the Majles. The Venice Commission recommends that reforms be made in such cases in order to improve fairness and equality in voting power.

As can be seen in the map, only a small group of districts are in white, i.e. within the ±10 percent range.

For a closer look at the fair distribution of Majles seats in Iran, please refer to the Nabz-Nameh dedicated to this topic: “Majles Seats and the Challenge of Fair Distribution”.

Other elections-related resources: