Accessibility links

Iranian Government Press Agency Reports Conservative Majority in Parliament - 2004-02-24

Iran's government press agency is reporting that Islamic hard-liners won a parliamentary majority in last week's controversial election, which was boycotted by most reformist parties. As vote-counting draws to a close, conservative leaders have begun to speak out about their agenda for Iran.

The leader of Iran's conservative alliance says the country's new parliament does not want to reverse the work of its rivals, the reformists.

Speaking at a news conference, Gholamali Haddadadel said the conservatives are not going to go backwards, but they want to make some adjustments to the reformists' timetable.

Mr. Haddadadel, who ran for parliament from Tehran, is now considered a strong candidate to take the post of speaker of parliament, when it opens in June.

Vote counting is continuing, but with 129 seats assigned, it is clear that Iran's Islamic hard-liners will control the 290 seat parliament. Victory was assured even before the ballot, with most of the rival reformist parties, which controlled the previous parliament, boycotting the vote.

Iran's Guardian Council barred more than 2,300 reformist candidates from running in the poll. The un-elected body has veto power over parliamentary candidates and decisions.

Prior to the election, the conservative judiciary closed two pro-reform newspapers - prompting fears that the new government would launch a crackdown on civil rights throughout Iran. But speaking Mr. Haddadadel dismissed those concerns. "We believe that these are reactions raised by political propaganda, by our competitors," he said.

Conservative leaders say they will work to address the nation's problems, including unemployment for people under 30, who make up 70 percent of Iran's population. No new measures have been announced.

Mr. Haddadadel also called for European countries not to make a hasty judgment on Iran's election. On Monday, EU foreign ministers called the election a setback for the democratic process in Iran."

Another conservative elected to parliament from Tehran had a stronger response. Ahmad Tavakkoli, of the Developers of Islamic Iran party said, "We don't think much of the words of enemies."

Voter turnout in the Iranian parliamentary election on Friday hit a record low, with just more than 50 percent of Iran's 46 million eligible voters participating. Analysts say that is partly because of the boycott, but also because many people have lost confidence in both the conservatives and the reformists.

Although they had the majority in parliament for the last four years, the reformists failed to liberalize Iranian society.