Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Iran elections: hardliners win all 30 parliament seats for Tehran

Conservatives secured landslide victory in the capital, state media reports

Poll workers empty full ballot boxes after the parliamentary election voting time ended in Tehran, Iran on February 22, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)
Poll workers empty full ballot boxes after the parliamentary election voting time ended in Tehran, Iran on February 22, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)

Hardliners in Iran have secured all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran, the country's capital, state TV reported on Sunday.

These were the initial results of its first round of parliamentary elections, which were held on Friday and were expected to produce victory for the country's conservatives.

Early indications from Tehran and other provinces show the principlist and conservative factions were set for a landslide win in the 290-seat Parliament.

The result would be a blow to moderate conservative President Hassan Rouhani.

Conservatives won 191 of the Parliament's 290 seats, Fars news agency reported.

Reformists were a distant second at 16, it said, adding independents had won 34 seats.

Iran's Interior Minister, Abdolreza Fazli, said on Sunday that turnout in the parliamentary election was about 42 per cent, state TV reported.

That was the lowest since Iran's 1979 revolution.

Mr Fazli said more than 24 million of 58 million eligible voters took part in the election on Friday.

He said the lowest turnout from the vote was the capital, Tehran, with just 25.4 per cent.

Mr Fazli said the country voted under less than ideal circumstances but: "We believe that the number of votes and the turnout is absolutely acceptable."

The turnout is widely regarded as a measure of how Iranians view the country's government and signals possible widespread dissatisfaction with Iran's rulers and the system over which they preside.

Turnout was nearly 62 per cent in the 2016 elections and has consistently been above 50 per cent since the revolution.

The strong victory for principlists and conservatives may be due to the Guardian Council, a vetting body of six clerics appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists, which disqualified more than half of the 14,000 people who applied to be candidates.

Most of those rejected by the council came were reformists and the moderates. This led the factions to boycott the elections in Tehran.

Mr Rouhani criticised the Guardian Council, saying "this is not an election” in a televised speech on January 15. He still urged Iranians to vote.

In the 2016 election, the reformists bloc and their centrist and moderate allies won 41 per cent of parliamentary seats.

The principlists won 29 per cent and independents took 28 per cent of seats. The result was a setback for the conservative bloc.

This parliamentary election was also supposed to enable a review of Iran's Constitution to pave the way for a smooth succession for Mr Khamenei, while he is still in good health to supervise the transition.

The elections took place under the threat of the coronavirus, which has killed eight people in Iran and infected 43 people across five cities, including Tehran.

Iran reported its first case of the virus two days before the national polls.

Mr Khamenei on Sunday accused enemy "propaganda" of trying to dissuade people from voting by exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus.

"Their media did not ignore the tiniest opportunity for discouraging people and resorting to the pretext of diseases and the virus," he said.

A range of crises has beset Iran in the past year, including widespread anti-government protests in November sparked by a rise in prices.

They hurt the establishment's legitimacy after they were met with a violent crackdown that deepened resentment over economic hardship and corruption.

There were also protests after the accidental downing of a passenger jet by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps amid heightened tensions with the US in January. Authorities initially tried to cover up the cause of the crash.

The withdrawal by the US in 2018 from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, and its reimposition of sanctions, have hit Iran's economy hard.

On the eve of the vote in Iran, the Trump administration sanctioned five election officials and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised the election as a "sham".

Updated: February 23, 2020 11:02 PM

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