Iran Conservatives Prevail In Polls Marked By Low Turnout

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Players from the Real Kashmir and Indian Arrows football clubs play during their I-League Football match at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar on Monday, February 24, 2020.PHOTO IMRAN NISSAR

TEHRAN – Iran’s conservatives will dominate the country’s new parliament following an election marked by the lowest voter turnout in decades, ac­cording to state media.

Two days after the polls closed, an Al Jazeera tally based on interior ministry results pub­lished on Sunday by state media said conservative candidates had secured at least 219 seats in the 290-strong parliament, also known as the Majlis.

With 11 seats set to be contest­ed in a second round in April, the new parliament will also comprise of at least 20 reformists and 35 in­dependents. Five seats are guar­anteed for the country’s religious minorities: Zoroastrians, Jews, Assyrians, Chaldean Christians and Armenian Christians.

In the capital, Tehran, conser­vatives won all 30 seats, with for­mer mayor and commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, topping the list.

Before the election, Ghali­baf’s conservative bloc formed a joint list with the ultra-conserva­tive Paydari Front, or the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability. The Front is led by Morteza Agha Tehrani, a scholar and ultra-con­servative politician who tends to advocate the principles that led to Iran’s 1979 revolution while Ghali­baf has a reputation of being an ambitious technocrat.

Low turnout

According to the Ministry of Interior, voter turnout across the country was about 42.5 percent – the lowest since the revolution. In previous parliamentary elections, nationwide turnout exceeded 60 per­cent. In Tehran, the turnout stood at just 25 percent, down from previous votes when it averaged 50 percent.

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s enemies had tried to “discourage” people from voting by exaggerating the threat of a new coro­navirus but added that participation had been good. The disease has so far claimed the lives of at least eight peo­ple in Iran, while more than 40 cases have been confirmed in the country.

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