Iran Votes: Ahmadinejad Rivals Set to Gain Control of Parliament
National elections in Iran on Friday saw historically high turnout, and unofficial results on Saturday show strong results for supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, whiles candidates close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did less well.
Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, said the turnout figures, which had been marked near 65%, could still rise as counting continues.
"They are hoping to set a new record, that would be the figure of 75 per cent, which was in 1996," she said. "[The voter turnout] is extremely important for the establishment in this country...the turnout indicates how much support they have."
In the absence of the reformists, whose leaders have remained under de-facto house arrest for protests, the election was seen by many as a contest among the increasingly fractured conservatives, divided along the lines of their support for the supreme leader or Ahmadinejad.
The relationship between the two leaders have deteriorated over the past couple of years, often resulting in public verbal clashes.
"It is essentially going to make life difficult for the president in his final year in terms of what he wants to push through the parliament. He has already had a lot of problems in the past with the legislative body," our correspondent said.
"In terms of what it means for the ordinary Iranians, it will not change their lives that much. This has been an internal dispute between the ultra-conservatives and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad. What does change for them is that there will be a more hard-line conservative voice coming out of the Islamic republic than before."
And The Guardian reports:
Reformists were virtually absent from the ballot, showing the crushing force of crackdowns on the opposition. Instead, Friday's elections became a referendum on Ahmadinejad's political stature after he tried to challenge the near-total authority of Khamenei to decide critical government policies such as intelligence and foreign affairs.
The apparent setbacks for Ahmadinejad's backers, according to early results, could signal a decisive blow in the internal political conflicts and give hard-liners an even stronger say over Iran's nuclear programme.
"It appears that the era of 'Ahmadinejadism' in Iran's political history is gradually coming to an end," said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a Tehran-based political analyst.
Khamenei said on Friday that Iran was moving into a "sensitive period" in the confrontation over Tehran's nuclear programme, which Iran claims is peaceful but the US and its allies fear could lead to atomic weapons.
The US president, Barack Obama, is scheduled to hold talks on Monday at the White House with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is seeking US backing for a possible military action against Iran, but has signalled that Israel is ready to go alone.