Larijani posts big win in Iranian elections

March 15th, 2008 - 11:21 pm ICT by admin  

Tehran, March 15 (DPA) Ali Larijani, the former chief nuclear negotiator and political opponent of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gained a big win in Iran’s parliamentary elections, while the conservatives were seen winning in the provinces as expected, reports said Saturday. Larijani ran as a candidate in the religious city of Qom, 130 km south of Tehran, and according to still unconfirmed reports, gained more than 75 percent of the vote against candidates close to the president, the news network Khabar reported.

He represents the so-called “revisionists”, a group that used to back the president but gradually grew apart from him and formed their own faction.

Larijani resigned last October as chief nuclear negotiator after grave differences with Ahmadinejad over the country’s nuclear policies and has since then been regarded as a critic of the president, especially regarding the president’s economic policies which have caused high inflation.

The conservative but pragmatic official was asked by high-ranking clergy circles to run for the Qom and not Tehran constituency. Observers believe the move was symbolic of the clergy’s support for Larijani and the new political trend among the conservatives.

In view of the landslide win, it remained to be seen whether Larijani would replace Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel, head of the pro-Ahmadinejad faction as the new speaker of parliament. Hadad-Adel ran in the Tehran constituency, where the results are yet to be announced.

As expected, initial results from the provinces show a lead for the conservatives who formed the majority of the candidates after more than half of reformist candidates were disqualified by the senate-like Guardian Council for alleged lack of loyalty to the Islamic system.

As in the provinces the voters consider technical rather than political aspects, only the results of the big cities especially the 30 seats in the capital Tehran will clarify political trends in parliament.

Reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami hope to gain one-third of the vote in order to establish at least an effective opposition inside the parliament.

Although the pro-Ahmadinejad faction is likely to gain most of the votes, the shares of both the pro-Larijani group and the reformists could still have an impact on future legislative decisions.

According to unconfirmed local media reports, the conservatives have won in most of the provinces. The pro-Ahmadinejad Fars news agency puts the conservative share so far at 70 percent.

Observers however say that some of the winners either have an independent stance or belong to the pro-Larijani group and are therefore not necessarily supporters of President Ahmadinejad.

But reformists also claim to have so far gained in the provinces more than the expected 30 percent and were hopeful of gaining more in the big cities.

The Interior Ministry said in a first estimate that 65 percent of the eligible voters took part in Friday’s elections. The turnout in the capital Tehran was however only 40 percent.

Final results are expected to be out Monday or Tuesday.

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