Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a political setback Saturday, as initial polling results indicated that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's camp is likely to rule Tehran's parliament.
Ahmadinejad's Conservative rivals have cemented a lead in the elections – an indication the Iranian president may face a more hostile house in the remaining 18 months of his second term in office.
Another blow came as results showed that Parvin Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president's younger sister, failed to win a parliamentary seat in Ahmadinejad's hometown and was defeated by her conservative rival.
Parvin Ahmadinejad was running for a seat in Garmsar, about 35 miles southeast of Tehran. She is a current member of Tehran's municipal council. Her failure is seen as a big blow to him in the first balloting since his disputed re-election in 2009.
Out of 60 winners, at least 46 conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad had won seats in parliament. Three other liberal-leaning candidates were elected. The tendency of the remaining 11 can be divided between supporters of Ahmadinejad and centrists.
More than 3,440 parliamentary hopefuls – all vetted by Iran's ruling Islamic system and none with links to the Green Movement that led protests after Ahmadinejad's re-election – were running for seats.
Going to the ballots (Photo: EPA)
The early results suggest Ahmadinejad will face a more belligerent parliament in the nearly two years remaining in his second four-year term.
Ahmadinejad faces unfriendly House
Nationwide, final results are expected to be released during the weekend and early next week.
Results in small towns, with few representatives in parliament, appear sooner than cities like the capital, Tehran, which has some five million eligible voters and 30 legislators.
Iranian polling station (Photo: MCT)
The new parliament will begin its work in June. It is expected to boost the voices of hard-line opponents of Ahmadinejad in next year's presidential elections.
The results for the 290-seat parliament will have no direct influence over Iran's nuclear program or other critical affairs, such as military or oil policies.
However, high turnout could heighten Tehran's defiance of the international community's effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is trying to build a weapon, a charge Iran denies.
Mehr said some 70% of more than 48 million eligible voters participated in the Friday elections.
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