Counting is underway in Iran’s parliamentary election, seen as a battle between rival conservative hardliners. It is the first national poll since the disputed presidential election of 2009, which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain power.
This time it is thought he and his supporters may lose out to allies of Iran’s top religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Tehran is anxious for a high turnout to reinforce its claims that the vote is legitimate. Allegations of fraud in the 2009 election triggered the worst unrest in the country in 33 years. However, this latest ballot has not been monitored by independent observers.
Senior officials are cautious in their predictions.
Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council said: “The next parliament will be a coalition and no one will have their own majority, but conservatives with a range of political opinions will be in the majority.”
A conservative-dominated parliament is a certainty as reformists are not taking part in the poll, or have been ruled ineligible.
The leadership’s main opponents, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who ran for
president three years ago, have been under house arrest for more than a year. They have dismissed the vote as “a sham”.