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16 Mar, 2008 09:23

Ahmadinejad gets lift from Iran poll result

Preliminary results show that hardline allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are ahead in Iran's parliamentary election. The vote was widely regarded as a test of the president's popularity, and 70 per cent of voters showed support for his policies.

But how do ordinary Iranians view the election and what might it bring?

After Iran went to the polls, the people of Tehran continue to go about their business.

Conservatives who largely support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are set to retain control in Parliament. Although official results have not been announced yet and there has been a strong showing by Ahmidinijad's critics, the hard-line conservatives are well ahead.

While this is the stuff of high politics, the average person in the street is concerned about what affect the election will have on Iran and its relationship with the West.

Mahmoud Tavakolian, the owner of a leather shop in the heart of Tehran, says in the old days, when more foreigners visited the country, business was better. But now he suffers because of the western perception of his country. He thinks if Iran and western countries came to more of an understanding, it would be better for everybody.

“Years ago, when there were many tourists coming to our country, business was very good. Nobody likes living under sanctions. But under what condition should we compromise? If we have to give up our will, then we don’t want to pay the price,” he says.

Mahmoud believes the west needs to recognise Iran's progress.

Indeed, already the government is wasting no time in making it clear it will stick to its tough line. Tehran has said “no” to further talks on the Iranian nuclear programme with the 'five plus one' negotiating states – the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Iran names the recent third set of UN Security Council sanctions as the reason for putting an end to talks. But some say this kind of conflict with the west only makes Iran all the more determined.

“Even though economic sanctions have a serious impact, it's just a push that will make Iran stronger,” political analyst Amir Ahmadiyan believes.

Others say the relationship is mutually dependent.

“War is impossible at the moment, considering the mutual interests of both sides. But threatening each other will have a great price for all sides involved,” another political expert, Hossein Ruyvaran, thinks.

And for many common people the controversial nuclear programme is a matter of national pride.

In the meantime Iranians are waiting for the next steps of their new parliament.

Friday's election brought no surprises – both for analysts and the average Iranian. In Tehran people are convinced that for now policies will stay the same. And while many say a better relationship with the West would be good for the country, those in power seem to continue to stick to their hardline policies.