Conservatives win in Iran's second round of voting
The conservatives have won in the second round of Iran's parliamentary
elections and expanded their absolute majority in the country's legislative
body, state media reported Saturday.
Due to low voter turnout of around 26 per cent - in the capital Tehran only 13 per cent - the results for the remaining 82 of the total 290 seats were announced sooner than Sunday.
The conservatives had secured 60 per cent in the first round of elections on March 14 and according to Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, expanded their expanded their domination after the second round to 69 per cent.
Conservatives also dominate the politically important Tehran constituency, where only one of the 30 seats is to go to Labour Party leader Ali-Reza Mahjoub.
The reformists, close to the two ex-presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, have right from the beginning had little chance as most of their top candidates were rejected by the Guardian Council, an ultra-conservative watchdog for the ideological qualifications of the candidates which is close to the president.
The reformists even failed to realize their minimum aim of 30 per cent and according to the interior minister, only gained 16 per cent of the 290 seats.
The rest went to so-called independent candidates who do not belong to any particular political faction.
Despite the clear victory for the conservatives, observers do not interpret the results as a victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new conservative faction headed by former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is considered to be highly critical of the president, especially his economic policies.
The pro-Larijani bloc claim to have gained the majority of the seats in the new legislative period, but there is no impartial confirmation yet for this claim.
Even the bloc believed to have been pro-Ahmadinejad and headed by Parliamentary Speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel is expected to have a more critical approach towards the president and check his economic planning meticulously.
Criticism against Ahmadinejad increased again after a further increase in the inflation rate - ranging between 20 to 30 per cent - further increased after the Persian New Year (March 21), although the president has several times promised to improve the economic situation in the new year.
The new political mood in the parliament will also be a major criterion for next year's presidential elections.
Following the parliamentary election results, observers believe that, besides reformists, also the new conservative faction will introduce a candidate to challenge Ahmadinejad's re-election.