Iran moderates eye more gains in run-off poll

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TEHRAN: Iranians lined up outside polling stations on Friday to vote in a second round of parliamentary elections, state TV reported, with allies of President Hassan Rouhani seeking to wrest more seats from hardliners.

Rouhani’s moderate and centrist allies made major gains in February 26 elections to parliament and a body of lawyers and clerics that will elect the next Supreme Leader. But they failed to win a majority in the 290-member assembly.

“People will vote for 68 undecided seats in constituencies that candidates failed to get 25% of votes cast in the first round of the election,” said interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, state TV reported.

On February 26, Iranians voted in twin elections to choose members of the Majlis and Assembly of Experts. Iranian election authorities put the turnout at 62 percent, with at least 33 million out of the 55 million eligible voters taking part in the two votes.

As many as 4,844 candidates, including about 500 women, competed for a place in the 290-seat parliament, while a total of 159 candidates ran for the 88-member Assembly of Experts.

The new parliament will begin its session on May 27.

The elections are being held in 55 cities and towns across the country. There will be no run-off vote in the capital, Tehran, where Reformists and independents won all 30 seats two months ago.

The Reformist bloc is fielding 58 candidates in the run-off, and the remainder includes Principlists and several independent candidates.

In a major blow to their hardline rivals, moderates won all 30 seats representing the capital city of Tehran in the first round of elections. Rahmani Fazli said the results will be announced by Sunday.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called for a high turnout, saying it will display Iranians’ trust in the establishment. The turnout was 62% in Februar

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