Last updated: 5 March, 2012

Conservatives to dominate new Iran parliament

Iran’s new parliament will be largely dominated by conservative supporters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to results on Monday from last week’s election.

Parliament, also known as the Majlis, will have about half of its current members replaced by newcomers, many of whom ran on an “independent” ticket. Of the incumbents, 170 will not return to the new majlis.

The complex structure of Iran’s politics and the uncertainty over factional allegiances and personal alliances make it difficult to predict the equilibrium of the new lawmakers, who are divided between supporters and critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Out of 290 seats, 225 parliamentary seats were filled on election day (Friday) and the other 65 seats, including 25 in the capital, will be decided in a run-off” vote, probably in the first half of the Iranian month starting on April 21, Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar was quoted as saying Monday.

He made the remarks to reporters, announcing the official end of the vote count.

The largely marginalised reformists, who had mainly boycotted the elections, lost most of their seats, retaining only 19 out of their 60 in the outgoing parliament.

The elections saw two major conservative factions, one bringing together Ahmadinejad’s supporters and the other his opponents, battle for control of the new parliament.

But neither the United Conservatives Front, critical of the president, nor the pro-Ahmadinejad Front of Islamic Iran’s Resistance managed to establish a majority, according to a compilation of the results by AFP.

The United Front, led by incumbent speaker Ali Larijani, won 43 seats, while the Resistance introduced 10 lawmakers to a parliament scheduled to open on May 26.

But 54 candidates presented by both factions were also elected. There are no indications on which party they will choose to support. The same uncertainty prevails for 90 “independent” candidates, whose allegiances remain unknown.

A small anti-Ahmadinejad conservative faction, Voice of the Nation, managed to win two seats.

And finally five seats returned to the three main religious minorities — Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians — recognised by the Islamic republic.

Mohammad Najar said the turnout “was a steel punch in the mouth and a hard slap in the face of the arrogant powers (the West),” a reference to political, economic, and military pressure over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

The interior ministry declared a turnout of more than 64 percent — significantly higher than the 55 percent recorded in the last parliamentary elections in 2008 — as a victory for Iran.