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Iranians Vote in Parliamentary Run-Off, Conservatives Favored 

  • Aya Batrawy

Iranians voted Friday in parliamentary run-off elections, with conservatives expected to win the majority of the seats up for grabs. One of the key issues is the rising rate of inflation in the country, which some have linked to the Iranian president's economic policies. Aya Batrawy has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

On Friday, Iranians voted in the country's parliamentary run-off elections. Eighty-two seats are up for grab out of the 290 seats in parliament because there was no clear winner of those seats in the first round.

Conservatives are expected to win the majority of those seats. Iran's cleric establishment disqualified hundreds of reformist candidates before the first round of elections. Those who were disqualified were accused of insufficient loyalty to the 1979 revolution and its Islamic principles.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an interview with Iranian television, urged Iranians to go out and vote.

He said everyone should vote with the same sense of responsibility that they showed with in the first round.

The Ayatollah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cast their ballots in the capital Tehran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke at a polling station on Friday.

He said the first round reflected the widespread interest of Iranians who stood in line for hours to cast their votes. He said the second round is meant to wrap up that process.

Iran's parliament, known as the Majlis, does not propose most new laws but may introduce legislation. It also has the power to dismiss cabinet ministers and can impeach the president for misconduct.

During the parliamentary round in March, reformists won 31 seats. Conservative candidates won 132 seats, or about 70 percent of the vote. Independents won 39 seats. The remaining seats are permanently assigned to religious minorities such as Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians.

About 90 percent of the conservative seats went to supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad.

But support for the outspoken Iranian president is said to have have weakened, as voters have become concerned about the country's 20 percent inflation rate.

Reacting to the disqualification of many reformist candidates, the United States and the European Union have dismissed the Iranian elections as neither free nor fair.

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