Supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been celebrating their leader’s victory.
Despite predictions of a closely run election, Iran’s electoral commission says the president has an unbeatable lead, securing a second term by a large majority. From the ballots counted so far, the hardliner has taken over 18 million votes. His nearest challenger, the reformist moderate Mirhossein Mousavi garnered only nine million. But Mousavi’s supporters are alleging voter fraud. In a night of claim and counter claim, with less than a quarter of the votes counted, Iran’s interior minister announced Ahmadinejad had won. Anticipating the news, rival Mousaivi held his own press conference and alleged widespread irregularities, insisting he had won the poll. After a tightly fought campaign it had been expected that the huge turnout – possibly up to 80 percent – would have favoured Mousavi. His powerbase lies in the cities and among Iran’s more highly educated middle classes. As it became increasingly obvious that Ahmadinejad had won an unassailable lead, anger among Mousavi supporters began to show and police were deployed to keep rival supporters apart. Two other candidates polled fewer than one percent of votes each.