Iran elections: Early results favor moderates, reformists

By Marilyn Malara   |   Feb. 27, 2016 at 9:57 AM
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TEHRAN, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Early results from Iran's first elections since last year's landmark nuclear deal are showing significant support for both moderate and reformist camps.

Of the 55 million people eligible to vote, about 60 percent, or 33 million, took part in the key elections Friday to choose both majlis, or Parliament, members and those of the Assembly of Experts.

Initial poll results will be posted Saturday night, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in a press conference, according to conservative-affiliated Tasnim News. Final results, which must be confirmed by the conservative Guardian Council, are expected to post within three or more days.

Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani said the high turnout during the elections, which were reportedly extended to accommodate significant amounts of latecomers, presents "a clear message for Western countries that our people defend the country's Establishment and leadership in unison."

A group of up to 6,200 candidates were running for 290 Parliamentary seats during this round of elections. More than 450 of those candidates are female, BBC said.

Some 161 candidates have been running for the 88 seats making up the Assembly of Experts, which chooses the supreme leader. Members of the Assembly serve for eight years.

The high-stake elections may determine whether current moderate president Hasan Rouhani will be re-appointed. A more moderate Parliament will also ensure easier passage for his social and political reforms if he remains in office.

Ahead of Friday's elections, Iranian women's rights activist and politician Faezeh Rafsanjani said: "The most important goal we want as reformists is to have a pragmatic, intelligent and balanced parliament that will stand behind Mr. Rouhani and his programs, not a parliament like the current one that tries to block the government."

Fundamental decisions, however, will still be the responsibility of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Friday, he urged voters to turn out for the elections to "disappoint our enemies."

"Whoever likes Iran and its dignity, greatness and glory should vote. Iran has enemies. They are eyeing us greedily. People should be observant and vote with open eyes and should vote wisely," he said after casting his vote.

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