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Iran prepares for vote seen as litmus test for establishment

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Campaigning officially ended on Thursday for Iran's parliamentary election, a day before a vote seen as a litmus test of the popularity of the clerical establishment.

Street cleaners were out early stripping posters and banners off walls to clear the way for Iran's first poll since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018 and reimposed punishing sanctions.

With Iran facing growing isolation on the global stage and discontent at home over economic hardships, analysts have said the turnout will amount to a referendum on the leaders' handling of the Islamic Republic's political and economic crises.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said voting is "a religious duty" but some prominent pro-reform politicians in Iran and activists abroad have called for a boycott of the election.

"We need to launch a strong boycott campaign to respond to the repressive policies of the system," jailed human rights activist Narges Mohammadi said from her cell in Zanjan city in a message posted on her husband's Facebook page this week.

Iranian activists and opposition groups are distributing the Twitter hashtags #BoycottIranShamElections and #VOTENoVote widely on social media.

The vote to pick 290 lawmakers will have no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran's nuclear policy, which is determined by Khamenei, whose hardline loyalists are likely to dominate the parliament
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