Ahmadinejad rivals cement hold on Iran Parliament
Tehran: Final results for many Iranian parliamentary constituencies announced on Saturday show supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad relegated to a small fraction of the legislature, hugely outnumbered by the conservatives who once backed him but then turned against him after he was perceived to challenge the authority of top clerics.
Iran has touted the turnout for Friday`s elections as a show of support for the country`s religious leadership in their confrontation with the West over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme.
It also represents another blow against the populist President who, while allied with the conservatives on foreign policy and many other issues, had tried to change the rules of the political game in the Islamic Republic, where the President and legislature are subordinate to religious figures like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khanenei.
The new Parliament will begin its sessions in late May. It has no direct control over major policy matters like Iran`s nuclear programme, but it can influence the run-up to the election of Ahmadinejad`s successor in 2013.
Of 65 seats for grabs in Friday`s runoff election, Ahmadinejad`s opponents won 20 while the president`s supporters got only 8 seats. Independents won 11, according to the state media early Friday.
Results for the rest including the capital Tehran are expected later in the day. About nine Ahmadinejad supporters are likely to win seats in Tehran where they were in a neck-and-neck race. The president`s opponents are almost certain to win the remaining 16 seats.
Ahmadinejad`s opponents had already won an outright majority in the 290-member legislature in the first round of voting in March.
Iran`s major reformist parties, who oppose both Ahmadinejad and the conservatives, mostly did not field candidates.
The results suggest Ahmadinejad will face a more belligerent Parliament in the remaining time of the second four-year term in office that ends August 2013. His allies are likely to be ousted from key posts, and his economic policies challenged.
Iran`s media has claimed that the turnout today matched that of the initial round of voting on March 2, when 64 percent of voters reportedly cast ballots.
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