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Clerical backers dominate Iranian election

March 5, 2012 at 1:41 PM
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TEHRAN, March 5 (UPI) -- A victory for supporters of Iran's supreme leader is a sign of a shift toward a possible parliamentary system, an exiled former lawmaker said.

Supporters of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei gained the upper hand in weekend parliamentary elections, the first election since the divisive 2009 presidential contest.

Khamanei had said Iran would be governed better by a parliamentary system. Ali-Akbar Mousavi Khoeini, a former reformist lawmaker living in exile in the United States, told The New York Times that Khamanei was trying to get rid of the office of the president.

"If they can get that, they will not hold the next presidential election; instead, Parliament will chose a prime minister," he said. "Then Khamenei will essentially have everything he does approved and pushed through Parliament by his allies."

Iran's last prime minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is under house arrest ostensibly for his role in leading the opposition Green Movement. Mousavi was seen as a threat to unseat Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 contest.

Most reform-minding candidates were barred from competing in the weekend election for the 290-seat Parliament. Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV said about 200 seats went to Khamanei supporters.

Many opposition groups boycotted the election.

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