Tehran: Moderate conservative Ali Larijani retained the speakership of Iran`s parliament Sunday despite major gains for reformists in February elections, benefiting from credit gained by his support for last year`s nuclear deal.
Several lawmakers from the reformist camp broke ranks to vote against the head of their own List of Hope, Mohammad Reza Aref, who lost by 103 votes to 173.
February`s election was widely seen as a referendum on last July`s nuclear deal with world powers led by the United States, the signature policy of moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
Larijani`s support for its passage through parliament kept him out of the fierce debate that saw a string of hardline opponents of the agreement lose their seats.
Reformists took 133 of the 290 seats in parliament. That fell short of a majority but it was more than the conservatives` 125 seats.
The remaining seats are held by independents and representatives of religious minorities who are expected to give Rouhani a working majority to pass key reform legislation that eluded him in the outgoing conservative-dominated parliament.
Several leading reformists broke ranks to endorse Larijani in the runup to the speakership contest.
"Larijani can better direct parliament than Aref," Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, the leader of one reformist faction, the Construction Party, told the Shargh newspaper on Tuesday.