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IRAN

Early results show Iranian conservatives in control of parliament

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, cast his vote near his office in Tehran.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, cast his vote near his office in Tehran. Reuters

Conservatives appeared to be in the lead as the first results of Iran's parliamentary election came in on Saturday, amid expectations of a low turnout after the disqualification of many candidates.

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Iranians went to the polls on Friday to elect 290 members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, or parliament.

With official figures still coming in, news agencies close to conservatives and ultra-conservatives have predicted a landslide victory for their candidates.

An unofficial tally published by the Fars news agency said the fate of 183 of parliament's 290 seats had already been decided, with 135 conservative candidates winning office.

List of Hope

During the last parliamentary elections in 2016, the reformist List of Hope, endorsed by President Hassan Rohani, occupied the largest chunk, with 120 seats. The Principalist Grand Coalition, consisting of conservatives, had only 86 seats.

The Principalists are headed by Tehran mayor Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, who ran as presidential candidate during the 2017 election, but yielded his place to fellow-hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nemesis of Hassan Rohani.

Rohani won that vote with 57 percent.

But after 8 May 2018, when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actionthe 2015 nuclear deal – Washington re-imposed sanctions causing more economic hardship in Iran.

Unpopular

As a result, Rohani and his reformists lost popularity, with many reproaching him for putting too much trust in Washington.

The Fars tally put the total number of reformists to claim seats at 20 and independents at 28 – down from 66.

Turnout was low at an estimated around 40 percent nationwide and 30 percent in Tehran at the scheduled close of polls at 1430 GMT on Friday, according to Fars, which led to the authorities to extending polling for another six hours.

The 2017 presidential election saw 70 percent turnout.

Guardian Council

Fars said the official turnout figure would be released on Saturday, while official results are not expected to be announced until Sunday.

Around half of the 16,033 hopefuls in the election were barred by the Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated vetting body, most of them moderates and reformists.

On Friday, voters also cast ballots for the Assembly of Experts, a largely ceremonial body that, on paper at least, has the power to designate or dismiss the Supreme Leader of Iran.

However, candidates for the Assembly have to be approved beforehand by the Guardian Council and in practice the Assembly never questions the Supreme Leader.

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