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14 Mar, 2008 19:28

Polling stations closed in Iran's parliamentary vote

Partial preliminary results in Iran's general election show hard-line conservatives have won a landslide victory. The election was widely regarded as a popularity test for president Ahmadinejad and 70% of voters showed support for his policies.

However,  there will be more opposition reformists in the new parliament than ever.

And that's despite the fact that many of their candidates were barred from running. Many reformist candidates were accused of not adhering to Islamic values and barred from running. Some 4,500 candidates competed for the 290 seats of parliament.

Throughout election day men and women came to polling stations and cast their ballots separately. They had their fingerprints taken, and had their IDs stamped to prove they had carried out their duty as citizens.

There are two main forces striving for seats in parliament: the conservatives, mostly supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who want to continue the Islamic tradition, and the reformists – those who are looking for change, both domestically and internationally, and don't approve of the President’s policies.

Seventy per cent of the current government's opponents have been banned from participating in the election. Iran's election-monitoring body says this happened for reasons of competence.

Analysts say reformists will get no more than twenty per cent in the new Parliament.
The election has forced division within the conservatives – some support Ahmadinejad, others, like the reformists, are calling for change. Both opposing camps say the current government has destabilised the economy which has led to inflation, expensive housing and unemployment.

The second bone of contention is Iran’s current hard-line relationship with the West.

Officials say they expect a high turn-out despite strict bans on campaigning. Meanwhile, many Iranians say they are reluctant to vote because of the large number of candidates banned from participating.

Final results will be announced within a week from election day.

For many the Iranian parliamentary election is largely seen as a test for the President. This election is set to show the chances of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being re-elected next year. Both analysts and common people have no doubt the conservatives will get most of the seats. But with part of them opposing Ahmadinejad's policies, Iranians are hopeful that the chances are higher that Iran’s legislative body will be more balanced for the next four years.