Government fails to replace Tehran mayor
The Tehran City Council defied government pressure on Wednesday, re-electing a moderate-leaning mayor who is seen as a potential rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The government had been campaigning to keep Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf from being picked again as mayor of the capital. But the City Council vote appeared to indicate waning support for Ahmadinejad, especially in the city he used to lead.
"Mr. Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf once again was elected as Tehran mayor," state-radio reported, saying he received eight of the 15 council votes. Qalibaf was Tehran police chief before his election as Tehran's mayor.
According to the AP, though conservative, Qalibaf is considered more of a pragmatist compared with Ahmadinejad. During local council elections in December, the president's allies suffered an embarrassing defeat in a vote that was seen as a sign of growing public discontent with his leadership.
Earlier this week, state-run radio conducted an opinion poll via cell phone text messages in which it said more than 82 percent people supported Qalibaf.
Originally, there were four candidates, including Qalibaf and two Ahmadinejad allies, but the final vote on Wednesday was between the current mayor and Rasoul Khadem, another conservative moderate and former wrestling champion. State radio said Qalibaf received eight votes and Khadem six, with one council member abstaining.