Hardliners lead in Iran’s ‘sham’ vote

An unofficial nationwide tally said 183 seats had been decided, with 135 conservative candidates winning office.
Sunday 23/02/2020
This handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him casting his vote during parliamentary election at a polling station in Tehran on February 21. (AFP)
This handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him casting his vote during parliamentary election at a polling station in Tehran on February 21. (AFP)

ISTANBUL - Hardliners were heading for a major victory against reformists as early results from Iran’s parliamentary elections signalled a possible nationwide landslide for conservatives.

In a development that could further rattle the legitimacy of the regime, turnout was estimated at much lower than the more than 60% of 2016 when reformists won all 30 seats for Tehran, their biggest stronghold.

This time a list of candidates affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was leading the race for seats representing the capital in the 290-member assembly, Fars news agency reported February 22.

An unofficial nationwide tally said 183 seats had been decided, with 135 conservative candidates winning office. Fars put the number of reformists to claim seats at 20 and independents at 28.

The United States imposed sanctions on two senior officials of the Guardian Council, the body of clerics and judges that decides which candidates may run in elections. The council banned many reformist candidates from standing in the elections, which apparently gave hardliners a strong advantage and triggered calls by opposition activists for an election boycott.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised the election as a “sham” and a vote that “is not free or fair.”

On February 21, the Financial Action Task Force, the world agency monitoring terrorism funding, announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran, after Tehran’s failure to introduce reforms.

The election took place under the shadow of a growing spread of the new coronavirus. Iran confirmed ten new cases February 22, putting its total at 28. Five people have died because of the virus.

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