Iran's moderates emerge from runoff with most seats

AP , Saturday 30 Apr 2016

Iranian journalists wait for the announcement of results of the country's parliamentary runoff elections at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (AFP)

Iranian moderates and reformists who support President Hassan Rouhani and last year's landmark nuclear deal have failed to secure a majority after parliamentary runoff elections but the bloc will retain the highest number of seats, followed by hard-liners and independents.

State TV announced the results for all of the remaining 68 contested seats on Saturday, the day after the runoff was held.

The new assembly, which will convene next month, will be far friendlier to Rouhani, but his supporters will have to ally with independents -- whose views vary depending on the issue -- in order to push through legislation.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains the top decision-maker in the country, and would have to support any major policy changes.

Thirty-seven seats were won by moderates or reformists in the runoff. The bloc needed to win 40 for an outright majority in the 290-seat chamber.

The moderates and reformists will have 143 seats in the assembly, making them the largest bloc, followed by hard-liners, with 86, and independents, with 61. Twenty-two hard-liners and nine independents won seats in the runoff.

The assembly will convene next month, after Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, confirms the results. The council is in charge of vetting candidates and supervising elections.

The failure to achieve an outright majority could complicate the moderate-reformist bloc's efforts to name a parliament speaker. The speaker plays a significant role in passing or rejecting bills and also serves on several important decision-making bodies, including the Supreme National Security Council.

In February, the moderate-reformist bloc dominated the vote in Tehran, securing all 30 seats there. But their support is less dominant outside the capital.

Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Ali Amiri told state TV that turnout in the runoff elections was 59 percent, compared with 62 percent in the original February elections. Some 17 million Iranians were eligible to vote.

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