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Iran moderates win majority in election, dealing blow to hardliners

Published 29/02/2016

Iranian clergymen vote in the parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections at a polling station in Qom (AP)
Iranian clergymen vote in the parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections at a polling station in Qom (AP)

Iranian moderates have won a majority in parliament, dealing a major blow to hardliners in the first elections held since last summer's landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.

Final results released by the Interior Ministry and broadcast on state TV show that reformists, who favour expanded social freedoms and engagement with the West, won at least 85 seats.

Moderate conservatives, who also supported the nuclear agreement, won 73, giving the two camps a majority in the 290-seat assembly.

Hardliners, who had opposed the deal, won just 68 seats, down from more than 100 in the current parliament. Five seats will go to religious minorities, and the remaining 59 will be decided in a run-off, likely to be held in April.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said turnout was 62%.

Moderates also won a 59% majority in the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body which will choose the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been Iran's Supreme Leader since 1989. The 76-year-old underwent prostate surgery in 2014.

President Hassan Rouhani and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, both considered moderates, retained their seats in the assembly, according to the Interior Ministry. However, several prominent hardliners, including Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, have also been re-elected.

Jannati is also the leader of the Guardian Council, an unelected, constitutional watchdog that vets election candidates. He has been a leading opponent of democratic reforms and has pressed for the disqualification of reformist candidates. Out of 3,000 reformists who applied to run in this year's elections, just 200 made it through the vetting process.

The Assembly of Experts is elected every eight years. Moderates previously held around 20 seats in the assembly.

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