Early Iran election results suggest gains for moderates

TEHRAN, Iran -- Partial election results in Iran on Saturday point to major gains by reformists and moderates who favour expanding freedoms and engaging with the West, and who defended the recently implemented nuclear deal with world powers against opposition from hard-liners.

See Full Article

Friday's election was the first since last summer's agreement was finalized, lifting international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. U.S. officials had hoped the deal would strengthen President Hassan Rouhani and other moderates, paving the way for greater co-operation on other regional issues.

Reports in the semi-official Fars and Mehr news agencies showed hard-liners losing ground in the 290-seat legislature. None of Iran's three main political camps -- reformist, conservative and hard-line -- was expected to capture a majority, but the reformist camp is on track for its best showing in more than a decade.

Reformist candidates were set for major gains in Tehran, which sends 30 representatives to the chamber and is seen as a political bellwether. Partial results released by the government showed 26 reformists among the 30 front-runners and just one hard-liner.

Mohammad Reza Aref, the most prominent reformist candidate, was at the top of the list, and the sole hard-liner, Gholamali Haddad Adel, was 10th. Some 1.3 million ballots have been counted in Tehran, where turnout is expected to exceed the 2.6 million who voted in 2012.

Final results from Tehran showed moderates also gaining ground in the 88-member Assembly of Experts, which will select the successor to 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's top decision-maker since 1989.

Rouhani and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relative moderate, led in Tehran, which will send 16 candidates to the assembly, the official IRNA news agency reported. Just two winners from Tehran were hard-liners, down from six in the current assembly. Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yezdi, a prominent hard-liner, lost his seat.

Both Rouhani and Rafsanjani currently sit in the assembly, which is elected every eight years and at present includes around 20 moderates. There were no immediate results from other constituencies, and vote counting was still underway.

The final results from the elections are expected on Monday.

In a statement, Rouhani thanked Iranians for taking part in the election and urged unity, calling for a "new chapter in the growth of the national economy by using domestic strength and foreign opportunities," a reference to Iran's openness to foreign investment now that sanctions linked to its nuclear program have been lifted.

Iran has dozens of political groupings and organizations, but no major, longstanding parties like in the West. Broadly speaking, the election is a showdown between hard-liners in one camp, and relative moderates supporting Rouhani and reformists on the other. There are also independent conservatives not aligned with either bloc.

Nearly 55 million of Iran's 80 million people were eligible to vote. Participation figures were not immediately available, but Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Saturday said turnout likely exceeded 60 per cent based on the partial counting of the votes.

Polls closed at midnight and officials immediately began counting the ballots. In the capital, officials counting the ballots in three different districts told The Associated Press that reformists were leading their hard-line rivals. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with reporters.

A substantial reformist bloc could herald a major shift in Iran's internal politics. The hard-line camp is largely made up of loyalists of Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who during his two terms in office stoked tensions with the U.S. and cracked down on dissent. Ahmadinejad also alienated large sectors of the conservative camp, leading some moderate conservatives to ally with reformists in this election in a bid to reduce the power of the hard-liners.

Reformists last rose to power with the 1997 election of President Mohammad Khatami, followed by 2000 parliamentary elections that brought a reformist majority for the first time. The movement pressed for an easing of Islamic social restrictions, wider freedom of expression and better relations with the West.

But their hold on power was broken in the next election in 2004, when reformist candidates were largely barred from running. Ahmadinejad's victory in 2005 sealed the movement's downfall. Reformists were virtually shut out of politics until Rouhani was elected in 2013.

The presidential election in 2009 was followed by mass protests over alleged voting fraud, but other past elections in Iran have been held without any major disputes. However, the Guardian Council has the right to vet candidates, and this year it disqualified all but 200 of the 3,000 reformist candidates who had hoped to run.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Stray bullet travels through window killing boy eating snack

    World News CTV News
    LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Police in Kentucky say a stray bullet fired during an outdoor fight travelled through the window of a nearby home, killing a 7-year-old who was eating a bedtime snack at his kitchen table. Source
  • Trump greeted with selfies and politics on arrival in Israel

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- U.S. President Donald Trump got an abrupt Israeli welcome on his arrival in Tel Aviv on Monday, with ministers asking favours and snapping selfies as they sought to get a piece of the commander in chief's attention. Source
  • UN envoy: All Syria parties agree to talks on constitution

    World News CTV News
    For the first time, all parties to Syria's conflict -- including the divided opposition -- have agreed to take part in expert talks to help lay the foundation for a new constitution, the UN special envoy for the country said Monday. Source
  • Iranian president calls U.S. relations 'a curvy road'

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani on Monday called relations with the United States "a curvy road," saying he hoped the Trump administration will "settle down" enough for his nation to better understand it. Source
  • Boy, 14, drowns in Newfoundland pond after canoe overturns

    Canada News CTV News
    GANDER, N.L. -- A 14-year-old boy has drowned after a canoe was overturned in a pond in Newfoundland and Labrador. Police say three teens were canoeing in Vardy's Pond near Gander when the boat tipped over on Sunday afternoon. Source
  • Turkey slams U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts against bodyguards

    World News Toronto Sun
    ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to protest what it called “aggressive and unprofessional actions” by American security personnel against Turkish bodyguards in Washington during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit last week. The action appeared to be in retaliation to calls in the U.S. Source
  • Leaked Facebook documents show types of content it allows, says report

    World News CBC News
    Leaked Facebook documents show how the social media company moderates issues such as hate speech, terrorism, pornography and self-harm on its platform, the Guardian reported, citing internal guidelines seen by the newspaper. New challenges such as "revenge porn" have overwhelmed Facebook's moderators, who often have just 10 seconds to make a decision, the Guardian said. Source
  • Bill Cosby 'looking forward' to trial as jury selection in sex assault case begins

    World News CBC News
    A Temple University basketball team manager's complaint that famous alumnus Bill Cosby drugged and molested her when she went to his home outside Philadelphia for career advice in 2004 will soon go before a Pennsylvania jury. Source
  • Game hunter crushed by elephant he shot

    World News Toronto Sun
    Always keep your eyes on the prize. One hunter learned that the hard way. Theunis Botha, 51, was killed in Zimbabwe on Friday when he was crushed to death by an elephant cow he just shot. According to the U.K. Source
  • Mentally ill dad who killed three kids up for review in British Columbia

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The case of a British Columbia man found not criminally responsible for killing his three children because of a mental illness is up for review, two years after a provincial board opened the door to him receiving supervised day trips. Source