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Conservatives set to sweep elections for Iran's new parliament amid low turnout

According to early results on Saturday, conservative candidates are poised to dominate in the upcoming elections for both Iran's parliament and influential clerical assembly. This outcome comes amidst historically low voter participation, with the unofficial turnout reported at 41%, a record low since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published March 03,2024

Conservatives are set to sweep elections for Iran's new parliament and the influential clerical assembly amid record low turnout, early results showed on Saturday.

The unofficial turnout cited by local media was around 41%, the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The last parliamentary polls in February 2020, days after Iran recorded its first cases of COVID-19, had a turnout of 42.4%.

While counting of ballots was still underway in Tehran and other provinces, preliminary results suggested conservatives and hardliners were poised to retain control of the top legislative body.

More than 15,000 candidates vied for 290 seats in the parliament (Majlis), while 144 candidates contested for the 88-member Assembly of Experts that appoints the country's Supreme Leader.

Of the total 87 million people in the country, more than 61 million were eligible to cast their ballots, many of them first-time voters.

Addressing reporters in Tehran, spokesman for election headquarters Mohsen Islami said in the capital vote count from 3,501 of the total 5,000 polling stations had been completed.

Veteran lawmaker Mahmoud Nabavian garnered 342,526 votes, followed by another lawmaker Hamid Resaee with 285,851, journalist Amir Hossein Sabiti 277,885 and former speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf coming fourth with 259,930 votes.

Only a few reformists were in the fray this time with some failing to get the green signal from the Guardian Council, the top vetting body, while others stayed away.

Ali Motahari, a prominent reformist politician and former deputy parliament speaker who was heading a 30-member alliance of his own, failed to secure a seat.

But Masoud Pezeshkian, a seasoned reformist politician, managed to secure enough votes to prevail over his opponents. He will be representing his home city of Tabriz in northern Iran in the new parliament.

The elections for the Assembly of Experts, for which 144 contenders were competing for 88 seats, did not spring any big surprises.

President Ebrahim Raisi retained his seat in the influential clerical body for the third straight time, securing more than 82% of votes from South Khorasan province.

Former President Hassan Rouhani had been disqualified by the Guardian Council from contesting the Assembly of Experts election.

Voting lines opened on Friday at 8 a.m. local time (0430 GMT), and were slated to close at 6 p.m. Authorities, however, extended the voting thrice until midnight to allow more people to vote.

Hadi Tahan Nazif, spokesman for the Guardian Council, told reporters that people and candidates had five days to register their complaints about the election process.