Iranians await crucial election results

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TEHRAN: Iranians are awaiting the results of Friday elections for parliament and a body which is tasked with appointing the Leader and monitoring his performance as vote counting began. 

Interior Ministry said on Saturday around 60 percent of voters cast ballots in the elections after voting hours were extended five times for a total of six extra hours to allow millions of latecomers to participate.

At least 33 million out of 55 million eligible voters took part in polls for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, ministry spokesman Hossein-Ali Amiri said.

The numbers will increase as not all ballots have been counted, he added.

President Hassan Rouhani hailed the voter turnout as he held talks with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann in Tehran about developing new relations.  

“People’s participation was enthusiastic, lively and exceptionally glorious. The congestion of the crowd was so high that the elections lasted until midnight,” he said during a joint news conference in Tehran.

Three million first-time voters were among the 55 million people aged 18 and over who are eligible to cast ballots in the country of 80 million.

Members of parliament generally break into two main blocs, those who support a reformist agenda and those who call themselves principlists.

Early results showed reformists faring better than expected while principlists prevailed in some constituencies. In the central Isfahan province, principlists won almost all the seats as they did in the southern Khuzestan province.

The Fars news agency, citing unofficial results, said about 60 percent of “definite entrants” into the 290-seat Majlis so far were priniciplists.

“Also, about 30 percent of the elected are reformists and moderates, while the rest are independents most of whom are inclined to the principlists,” it added.

The results in the capital Tehran, the bellwether of Iran’s political scene, were not known yet.   

A second round will be held in a number of cities for seats where no candidate received more than 25 percent of votes. 

On Friday, voters also cast their ballots for those running for the 88-member Assembly of Experts.

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