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Conservatives dominate Iran run-off vote

Tehran, April 26, 2008

Conservatives have consolidated their grip on Iran's parliament after run-off votes for undecided seats, state radio reported on Saturday, but reformists said the election process was biased against them.

Conservatives won a majority of the 208 seats decided in the first round of voting in March for the 290-member assembly. Run-off votes were held on Friday for 82 undecided seats and, as expected, those polls have not changed the overall outcome.

Although conservatives have the upper hand in parliament again, analysts say the assembly may give President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a tougher time as rivals in the broad conservative camp jockey for position before the 2009 presidential election.

Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi was quoted by Iranian radio as saying conservatives took more than 69 per cent of 287 seats decided, suggesting they held almost 200 seats.

That is in line with the proportion announced after the first round. The results of three parliamentary seats were annulled for unspecified reasons, Iranian media reported.

Reformists, Ahmadinejad's staunchest critics, have said the vote was unfair because the unelected Guardian Council, which screens candidates on their commitment to Islam and Iran's clerical system, barred many of them from standing.

Officials say the system is fair and impartial. Pourmohammadi was quoted by the radio as saying reformists, who seek political and social change, won about 16.4 per cent of seats and independents about 14.3 per cent. Those percentages would equate to roughly 47 and 40 seats respectively.

Without a tradition of disciplined political parties in Iran, clear loyalties are often difficult to determine and allegiances can shift.

Reformists said they won more than 30 seats in the first round. Before Pourmohammadi spoke, a reformist official said the group did "a little better than expected" in the run-offs.

"From the final results we have so far, 17 reformists have won seats in provinces (aside from Tehran)," Abdollah Naseri, an official from the main reformist coalition, said.-Reuters




Tags: Iran | Vote | win | Conservatives | run-off |

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