Ahmadinejad rivals leading in parliament vote

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face a more hostile house in the remaining 18 months of his second term in office.

Tehran: Conservative rivals of President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were leading in the race for parliament according to early election results on Saturday, an indication the
Iranian president may face a more hostile house in the
remaining 18 months of his second term in office.

The strong showing by loyalists of Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in yesterday`s parliamentary elections
also reflected staunch support for Iran`s theocracy and its
firm stance in the nuclear standoff with the West.

Early returns today in the capital Tehran showed Khamenei
loyalists have pulled ahead. Partial results from provincial
towns also show conservative Ahmadinejad rivals were elected
in many constituencies.

State media said the turnout was estimated at over 67
percent from among 48 million Iranians eligible to vote.

The conservatives` lead had been expected as yesterday`s
balloting for the 290-seat parliament had boiled down to a
popularity contest between two conservative camps, those
opposing Ahmadinejad and those backing the president.

The elections were the first major vote since
Ahmadinejad`s disputed re-election in June 2009 and the mass
protests and crackdowns that followed.

With the opposition crushed in the brutal crackdowns over
the past three years and major reformist factions absent from
polling stations, the outcome of the elections is unlikely to
change Iran`s course over major policies, including its
controversial nuclear program, military and oil policies.

But a win by his rivals will weaken Ahmadinejad`s camp
ahead of the 2013 presidential race.


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