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Early Results Show Huge Election Victory for Conservatives in Iran


Early results from Iran's controversial parliamentary elections show conservative candidates cruising to a major victory over reformists - who had called for a boycott of the vote after more than 2,000 of their candidates were disqualified.

According to Iran's Interior Ministry, conservative candidates were elected to a majority of the first several dozen parliamentary seats that were declared Saturday.

Some 2,400 pro-reform candidates were banned from running by Iran's hard-line Guardian Council last month, drawing criticism from U.S. officials who expressed concern that elections were not free and fair.

Because of the ban, conservatives are expected to take control of the 290-seat parliament, which pro-reform legislators have dominated since the last election four years ago.

Analyst Amal Hamada, an expert on Iran and lecturer at Cairo University, says conservatives now have a significant task ahead of them.

"I think the conservatives will have to do enormous efforts to assure the international community that their being in power does not threaten regional stability or nuclear issues," he said.

Voter turnout was another closely watched element of Friday's poll, because many leading reformists had urged a boycott of the balloting.

On Saturday, Iran's state news agency called voter turnout respectable, and conservative newspapers ran stories praising the widespread participation of voters. No independent confirmation of turnout was immediately available.

Many analysts expected voter turnout to dip below the 67 percent participation level observed in Iran's last parliamentary race.