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Reformist Lawmakers Poised to Win Big in Iran Elections

Reformists appear to be making big gains at Iran’s ballot boxes, with early results on Sunday indicating reformists who favor engagement with the West will win all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran.

Final results from Friday’s vote are expected Monday.

President Hassan Rouhani and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani are also leading the race for membership in the Assembly of Experts. The influential body monitors the work of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on Iran’s foreign policy, and could choose the next supreme leader.

Election officials count ballot papers after the close of polling stations during elections for the parliament and a leadership body called the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, in Tehran, Feb. 26, 2016.

Partial results point to hard-liners losing considerable ground in the 290-seat legislature, (also known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly).

Credibility, clout

Iran’s official media on Saturday quoted Rouhani as saying the election has given the government more credibility and clout.

“The competition is over. It’s time to open a new chapter in Iran’s economic development based on domestic abilities and international opportunities,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
The vote was the first election since the country’s nuclear deal with world powers took effect.

The final results may provide the first clue as to whether key Western proponents of the deal will receive what they hoped for; a more open, moderate Iran.

The outcome could be interpreted as a comment on the level of support for the policies of Rouhani, who is up for re-election next year. Rouhani has made the nuclear agreement a key objective of his administration.

Huge voter turnout

Newspapers reported a huge turnout at the polls Friday, including many young voters.

Polls had been scheduled to close at 6 p.m., but remained open much later in some cases. State television showed long lines both in Tehran and in polling places around the country.

About 55 million Iranians were registered to cast ballots for members of the conservative-dominated 290-seat parliament as well as the 88-member Assembly of Experts.

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