Introducing EMERG

Established as a network of researchers focusing predominantly on Iran, the work of our not-for-profit has expanded significantly across the region over the past few years. Therefore, as of the annual meeting in early May 2018, we are now the European Middle East Research Group (EMERG).



Report : Voter Behaviour and Political Mobilization in Iran

By: Kevan Harris and Daniel Tavana

Beginning on December 28, 2017, Iranian citizens assembled across the country, expressing long-simmering demands for political, social, and economic change. Many of these grievances are rooted not just in economic inequality and unmet social promises, but a more general frustration with political stagnation in the Islamic Republic.

Chants were heard against the government’s Principlist (conservative) predecessors, the current administration associated with President Hassan Rouhani, and even the Reformist opposition. As various factions in Iran’s political establishment jockey to respond to the country-wide protest wave, there is a palpable sense that the existing bargain driven by elite mobilization of citizen participation in electoral politics is no longer credible.

Circulated videos of rallies, online media sources, and domestic Iranian reports have proven useful for understanding these historic events. Given their limitations, however, these sources should be complemented with assessments of how Iranians respond from below in key moments of mobilization such as nation-wide elections. One such complement to existing reporting on Iran is survey research, where survey samples representing the entire population are contacted and interviewed.

In an effort to capture citizen behavior and attitudes towards presidential and parliamentary elections, political mobilization by candidate campaigns, and access to various news media, the Iran Social Survey (ISS) surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 5,000 Iranian residents after the 2016 Majles (parliamentary) and Assembly of Experts elections. ISS interviewers also asked respondents about civil society participation, household usage of state social services, self-identification across ethnic or language groups, and family demographics including parents and grandparents’ occupational histories.

The following brief highlights election-related findings relevant for understanding how citizens engage with the political process in Iran. We find low levels of identification with national-level political factions, considerable heterogeneity in citizen preferences for presidential and parliamentary candidates, and divergence in where citizens receive information about politics. We also find large differences in how candidates contact voters before election day. Additionally, individual-level data is made available on nationally-representative voting patterns based on socioeconomic status, age, gender, and education.

The Iran Social Survey was made possible with the help of the European Middle East Research Group, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond), and the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University.

Link to full report: Voter Behaviour and Political Mobilization in Iran

Contact authors: Kevan Harris [] & Daniel Tavana []



Report on EU-Iran relations

As commissioned by the European Parliament, EMERG has produced a report on a potential strategic relationship between the European Union and Iran. The report, An EU Strategy for relations with Iran after the nuclear deal,  is based on the expertise and research capabilities of members of the EMERG network.

We welcome you to download the full report.


Seminar : A new chapter for Iran?

[MAY 3rd 2016, Stockholm] The European Middle East Research Group  in cooperation with Folk och Försvar invites you to a seminar on Iranian domestic politics and foreign policy. The seminar will address the effects of the lifting of sanctions, the parliamentary elections in February 2016 and Irans role in the regional conflicts and relations to EU.


Date & Time; 3 MAY 2016 (09:00 – 11:45)

Iran is a significant regional actor whose behaviour affects not only its immediate neighbours but also the European union and countries like Sweden In the last 12 months Irans political trajectory in the region has undergone a major strategic shift due to the international agreement regarding its nuclear program. The agreement enabled the lifting of sanctions in January 2016 and was followed by crucial parliamentary elections in February.

It has also opened doors for western companies to reinvest and freely trade with Iran – which is expected to boost the country’s economy in the coming years. At the same time the agreement has exacerbated regional tensions especially with Irans rival Saudi Arabia.How has the results of the elections influence the countrys political landscape?

How can we understand Irans new role in the international community? What is Irans role in the conflict-ridden Middle East and the war in Syria?  And what kind of relationship will and should the EU have with Iran? And what is Swedens view on Iran and the countrys role in the region?

The seminar will be live streamed and available on the web.

Moderator: Minou Sadeghpour, Program Manager, Folk och Försvar


09:00 Welcome remarks

  • Minou Sadeghpour, Folk och Försvar

09:10 Swedens view on Iran

  • Carl-Magnus Nilsson, Desk Officer Department for Middle East, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

09:20 Domestic and economic developments after the deal and parliamentary elections

  • Rouzbeh Parsi, Senior lecturer Lunds university & Director EMERG
  • Magnus Runnbeck, Senior analyst, Business Sweden

10:15 Coffee break

10:45 Foreign policy and regional relations

  • Aniseh Bassiri Tabriz, Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute, London
  • Dina Esfandiary, Fellow Kings college, London & Chairperson EMERG
  • Nicola Pedde, Director, Institute For Global Studies, Rome

11:45 End of seminar


Social Class in Iran

In May 2015, EMERG and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University hosted a workshop on social class in Iran. The participants were leading scholars from Iran, the EU and the US who shared their recent research on social class issues. Workshop organisers were Director Dr. Rouzbeh Parsi and Advisory Board Member Dr. Kevan Harris.

Some papers from the workshop will be featured in a Spring edition of MERIP.


Panel Discussion at Lund University

In May 2015, EMERG hosted a panel discussion at Lund University.

Years of nuclear talks between Iran and the permanent members of the Security Council including Germany will soon reach its deadline. In light of these negotiations: the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), the European Middle East Research Group (EMERG) and the Association of Foreign Affairs (UPF) will arrange panel discussion on the future of Iran and its nuclear policy.


  • Dina Esfandiary: Research associate, King´s College London.
  • Amb. Roberto Toscano: Former ambassador to Iran (2003-2008).
  • Ariane Tabatabai: Research associate at Harvard University, Belfer Center.
  • Amb Peter Tejler: Sweden’s ambassador to Iran. Former ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and former head of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Moderator for the night was Rouzbeh Parsi, Director of EMERG.