Iran counts votes following parliamentary elections

Published February 27th, 2016 - 09:17 GMT
Iranians line up outside a polling station at Massoumeh shrine during the parliamentary elections at a polling station in the city of Qom, 130km south of the capital Tehran, on Feb. 26, 2016. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)
Iranians line up outside a polling station at Massoumeh shrine during the parliamentary elections at a polling station in the city of Qom, 130km south of the capital Tehran, on Feb. 26, 2016. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

Iran started counting millions of votes on Saturday after a hotly contested election that gave Iranians the chance to decide whether to go forward with the reformist policies of President Hassan Rowhani.

Some 33 million out of 55 million eligible voters took part in Friday's parliamentary poll, according to the Interior Ministry.

The turnout of 60 percent means the government fell short of its goal to bring out 70 percent of voters.

The ministry had announced several extensions to voting times in some areas - in some cases to just before midnight - in order to allow more people to participate, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

More than 4,800 candidates were running for 290 seats in parliament.

Interior Ministry spokesman Hussein-Ali Amiri warned against any speculation as to the results, after some local media outlets reported that the reformist camp was in the lead.

Results from some smaller towns and cities are expected on Saturday, but counting may take longer in the capital Tehran and other larger cities.

Amiri said some cities would have to conduct run-off votes because no single candidate had achieved the minimum threshhold of 25-percent support.

Iranian news outlet Kaleme reported that prominent opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife took part in the election for the first time since they were placed under house arrest in 2011. It also said political prisoners had been allowed to vote.

This could not be independently verified. Authorities had promised that all Iranians would be allowed to participate in the poll.

Iran's relations to the West have steadily grown closer under Rouhani since a nuclear accord with major powers in July and the president's subsequent visit to Europe in January. Hardliners are seeking to reassert the country's traditional anti-Westernism.


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