Tehran: Iran`s media reported a huge turnout
in parliamentary elections on Saturday and described as a "blow" to
the West, while voters said they were mostly preoccupied with
their sanctions-hit economy -- and non-voters spoke of a
The elections to fill the 290 seats in parliament, known
as the Majlis, were the first since President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad was returned to office in a disputed 2009 vote
that prompted opposition cries of fraud.
While that re-election sparked widespread protests
brutally put down by security forces, there was no disturbance
this time, according to police.
Officials several times extended voting hours because of
what media including the Fars news agency called a "massive
turnout" -- a common occurrence in past elections too.
Polling stations were being kept open to 11:00 pm (local
time) under the latest extension.
Authorities were keen to present a high turnout to show
they enjoyed broad public support and legitimacy, especially
at a time when they are confronting the United States and its
European allies over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said as he cast his
ballot that vigorous voter participation bolstered "the
future, prestige, security and immunity of the country."
State media and many voters echoed his assertion that
Iran`s voters had dealt "a blow to the face of the enemies" in
The official Islamic Republic News Agency praised the
"passionate participation" of voters.
Some others, though, questioned the turnout claims.
They underlined that the main opposition groups, whose
leaders are under house arrest, had boycotted the polls and
that the 3,400 candidates approved to run were overwhelmingly