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Conservatives Seen Tightening Grip in Iran Elections

Conservatives Seen Tightening Grip in Iran Elections

Saturday, 22 February, 2020 - 06:00
Iranian citizens read the voter rolls at a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Tehran, Iran, 21 February 2020. EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
Tehran - London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Conservatives took an early lead Saturday as the first results of Iran's parliamentary election came in, boosted by a predicted low turnout amid voter apathy after the disqualification of thousands of candidates.

Polls shut at midnight after at least five extensions beyond the originally scheduled 6:00 pm closing time to allow a maximum number of people to cast their ballots, Agence France Presse reported Friday.

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei had urged all Iranians to take part as he cast the first ballot in the election, saying that doing so would "guarantee the country's national interests".

Turnout was estimated at around 40 percent nationwide and 30 percent in Tehran at 1430 GMT, according to Fars news agency, close to the ultra-conservatives.

By midday Saturday, votes had been counted in 71 constituencies out of 208, according to National Elections Committee figures reported by semi-official news agency ISNA.

Tehran is the biggest catch in the election with 30 seats.

Results are not expected to be announced until Sunday.

Authorities announced schools will be closed Saturday in dozens of urban centers to allow for ballot counting.

The election coincided with an outbreak of the new coronavirus that authorities say has killed four people in the country this week.

Around half of the 16,033 hopefuls in the election were barred by the powerful Guardian Council, most of them moderates and reformists.

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