Conservatives leading Iranian parliamentary election polls in early count

Vote attracted record low turnout of an estimated 41 per cent of electorate

Iranians voting in national elections in Tehran. Getty Images
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Iran's conservatives are leading in an initial vote count in the capital Tehran, state media reported Sunday, following a record-low turnout in the parliamentary election.

Officials have not yet released turnout figures. However, state news agency Irna said it was 41 per cent based on unofficial reports.

In the last parliamentary election in 2019, only 42 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in what was considered to be the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Early results show that conservatives have won Tehran's 30 seats but with votes tallied manually, Iran's ballot takes time to count.

Under Iranian law, Parliament has a variety of roles, including overseeing the executive branch and voting on treaties. In practice, absolute power in Iran rests with its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Participation in Iran’s elections on Friday drew a low turnout despite extended voting hours.

About 61 million Iranians are eligible to vote, including 3.5 million first-time voters, according to Irna.

However, only about 25 million people voted, meaning a turnout of about 40 per cent, the Tasnim news agency said, citing reports in unnamed unofficial media.

A number of reformists boycotted the election.

Authorities twice extended voting hours on Friday to keep polling centres open until midnight in the first national election since mass anti-government protests followed the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

Leaders had called on Iranians to vote in large numbers, with Mr Khamenei warning that the world was watching the election.

“Onlookers from all over observe the affairs of our country; make friends happy and ill-wishers disappointed,” he said while casting his vote in Tehran.

The vote is being held as Iranians struggle with soaring inflation and amid heightened regional tensions linked to the Israel-Gaza war.

Iranians were also voting for the Assembly of Experts, which elects the supreme leader.

Several winners of parliamentary and assembly seats emerged on Saturday morning from early counts, Tasnim said.

Candidates for parliament are vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are appointed or approved by the supreme leader.

They approved 15,200 candidates out of nearly 49,000 applicants to run for seats in the 290-member chamber.

Analysts had expected conservatives and ultra-conservatives, who won 232 out 290 seats in the 2020 election after reformist and moderate candidates were disqualified, to dominate.

Conservatives are also expected to maintain a firm grip on the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body exclusively made up of male Islamic scholars.

Updated: March 03, 2024, 12:36 PM