Subscribe

Iranian reformists win all capital seats in strong showing

While none of Iran's political factions are expected to have an outright majority, the elections are a rebuke to hard-liners opposed to rapprochement with the West.

  • close
    Iranian president Hassan Rouhani after casting his vote last week.
    Handout/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Iranian reformists appear have won all 30 seats representing the nation's capital in parliament, a definitive rebuke to the hard-liners opposing President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to increase economic openness and cooperate with the West.

In the first elections held since last year's nuclear deal, none of Iran's three main political camps — reformists, conservatives and hard-liners — is expected to win an outright majority, but early results indicate the best reformist showing in the 290-seat parliament in more than a decade.

Moderate conservatives also gained seats, and if their tentative coalition with the reformists holds, they could end the domination of parliament by hard-liners opposed to the nuclear deal. The reformist gains reflect strong public support for the agreement's promise of more economic opportunities now that the West has dropped crippling sanctions in exchange for limiting the nation's nuclear program.

State television said Friday's vote heralds "the end of the presence of a powerful majority in the parliament that overshadowed decision-making apparatus in the country over the past decade."

Rouhani thanked voters Saturday night in a message that encouraged Iranians to help him end the nation's isolation.

"The competition has ended. Now it is time to open a new way through unity between people and the government to have a new chapter in growth of the national economy by using domestic strength and foreign opportunities," he said.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, called the vote "proof of democracy" at work in Iran.

But Khamenei also addressed hard-line concerns that greater integration with the West could undermine Iranian independence and morality. He urged the next parliament, which begins its work in May, to remain vigilant against "foreign intervention" and warned that democratic progress does not mean "integration into the global arrogance."

The Interior Ministry is expected to release final results on Monday. Provincial reports suggest that of the first 185 districts reporting, 55 have gone to reformists, 66 to moderate conservatives and 64 to hard-liners.

Reformists hold fewer than 20 seats in the outgoing parliament and have been virtually shut out of politics since losing their parliamentary majority in the 2004 elections. Nearly 55 million of Iran's 80 million people were eligible to vote, and more than 60 percent turned out, based on partial results.

Iranians also elected a new Assembly of Experts, 88 senior clerics whose most important role is to select a new supreme leader from among its members. The assembly is elected every eight years and could be asked to choose a successor to Khamenei, 76, who had prostate surgery in 2014.

Mehrnaz Hemmati, a 21-year-old tailor shop worker, said she voted for the coalition of reformists and moderates — and won't celebrate until the final results are announced.

"I expect more attention to be paid to job opportunities for women," Hemmati said. "Rouhani, with help from the new parliament, should open doors to the world to bring in foreign investments."

Mohammad Reza Shahabi, an accountant in a construction company, hopes that with hard-liners losing some influence, "the government will have a more free hand in implementing deals with the world from now on. The elections should add to Rouhani's power, since new lawmakers will not create barriers like before," he said.

But Aida Ghorbani, an employee at an advertising and public relations firm, doubts the ability of the larger reformist bloc to have much impact.

"Based on experience, they cannot take big steps because of the greater influence of hard-liners in the government, however I feel happy," she said.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK