Iran: Elections To Shape The Country’s Future Relations With West
Preliminary results from an election for Iran’s parliament showed significant gains for reformist and moderate allies of President Hassan Rouhani, who captured 29 seats out of the 30 reserved for the capital Tehran, according to tallies from state-run media.
“The competition is now over,” President Rouhani said in a message published on his website hours before the results were officially announced.
“It’s time for the people and the government to speak with the same voice, step onto a new path, and by relying on our domestic capability and making use of international opportunities start a new chapter in the growth and blossoming of the national economy.”
Moderates also took an early lead in a separate vote for the Assembly of Experts, a top clerical body that may select Iran’s next supreme leader.
In all, the elections could help shape the country’s future amid a debate over ties with the West and the recent lifting of economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.
Candidates from a list headed by President Rouhani and his ally, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had a commanding lead in the Assembly of Experts election in Tehran, according to preliminary results announced on state-run television, 16 seats in that 88-member body are reserved for the capital.
The early vote count showed that 1 of Iran’s most hardline clerics, Mohammad Taghi-Mesbah Yazdi, 82 anni, will probably lose his seat. He is known in Iran for his strict views and opposition to reforms.
Results were based on about 1.3-M votes counted in Tehran, which has an electorate of some 8-M, according to state television.
Tallies for the rest of the country were awaited.
Millions of Iranians voted Friday in the 1st elections since the Y 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.
A victory for moderate clerics and politicians will strengthen President Rouhani’s hand in opening the economy to foreign investments in the face of hardliners who control institutions such as the judiciary and the Revolutionary Guards.
The initial Assembly of Experts results reflect a “vote of confidence by the most politicized segment of the Iranian society for Messrs Rouhani and Rafsanjani’s vision of a more pluralistic polity that is integrated into the global economy,” said a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group. “Ultra-conservatives are on their back foot, but not defeated.”
The Assembly of Experts is in charge of nominating the nation’s Supreme Leader, who has final say on all state matters, if the post becomes vacant.
The position has been held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 76 anni, since the death of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Y 1989.
President Rouhani, the architect of a diplomatic U-turn that led to the nuclear accord and the removal of global sanctions, wants to translate his foreign-policy coup into benefits for Iranians ahead of the Y 2017 Presidential race, when he might seek a 2nd term.
For foreign investors eyeing a relatively untapped nation of nearly 80-M consumers, a victory for moderates more in tune with the President’s agenda could speed market-opening laws.
Turnout for the parliamentary vote was more than 60%, according to authorities.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said earlier he hoped as much as 80% of votes cast in provinces would be counted by the end of the day.
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