A woman casts her ballot yesterday at a mosque used as a polling station in Tehran
More than 64 percent of the registered electorate voted in Iran's parliamentary poll, the interior minister said on Saturday in a preliminary estimate of the turnout. © Atta Kenare - AFP
A woman casts her ballot yesterday at a mosque used as a polling station in Tehran
Last updated: March 3, 2012

More than 64% voted in Iran poll

More than 64 percent of registered voters turned out for Iran's parliamentary poll, according to a preliminary estimate by the interior minister on Saturday.

"Based on the preliminary estimate, participation nationwide stands at 64.2 percent, but this figure is not final," Mostafa Mohammad Najar told state television.

He said 135 candidates had so far won seats in the 290-member parliament, with results in larger constituencies expected by Monday.

The Islamic republic's ruling conservatives predicted a massive turnout in Friday's election despite a boycott by a large part of the reformist opposition and the crackdown the followed the disputed 2009 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The minister said turnout stood at 48 percent in the capital, up from 30 percent in the 2008 legislative poll.

Overall participation normally runs between 50 percent and 70 percent, and it stood at 55.4 percent in 2008.

Conservative newspapers hailed on Saturday the "historical" turnout for the previous day's elections.

The "massive" voting of "30 million Iranians is a great slap in the dirty and hateful face of the West," headlined governmental newspaper Iran, in a reference to political, economic, and military pressure by Western nations and Tehran's nemesis Israel over the country's controversial nuclear programme.

Hardline daily Kayhan praised the "historical presence of the people at the most sensitive turning point" of the country.

The minister "thanked the Iranian people" for the high turnout, saying it "was epic-making presence and dissuaded the enemies who tried hard not have this participation."

Full results will not be known until Monday, and the those so far do not give a clear-cut picture on how the various conservative factions -- including supporters and opponents of Ahmadinejad -- have fared.

However, conservatives will still dominate the new Majlis, or parliament.

Many of the 135 elected MPs announced by Saturday afternoon come from smaller constituencies and are "independent" new faces whose allegiances are still unknown.

Outgoing parliament speaker Ali Larijani, one of the main opponents of Ahmadinejad, was reelected without surprise in the holy city of Qom, south of the capital.

But several well-known incumbents, famed for their unwavering support of the government, were defeated in the provinces.

Parvin Ahmadinejad, the president's sister, was running for the first time and was beaten in her hometown of Garmsar, southeast of Tehran.

But conservatives opposed to Ahmadinejad, who have been backing Larijani, faced some setbacks. Among them was the defeat of veteran deputy Ahmad Nateq Nouri, brother of former Majlis speaker Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri.

Not surprisingly, several reformist deputies were not reelected, even if the bloc's leader, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, got through.

The main reformist movements, which held 60 of the 290 seats in the outgoing parliament, had in fact decided to boycott the elections in protest against the repression they have suffered since 2009.

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