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14 Mar, 2008 16:05

Polls open in Iran’s parliamentary election

Polling stations have opened in Iran as the country elects its eighth parliament since becoming an Islamic republic in 1979. The choice is mainly between ruling conservative hard-liners and reformists calling for social and political change in line with t

The reformers are calling for social and economic reform and better relations with the West, in opposition to current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The conservatives are the supporters of Ahmadinejad and the Islamic tradition. They have had a split in their ranks during recent months as people in Iran are unhappy with UN Security Council sanctions for Iran’s nuclear policy.

Another group of candidates, the independents, is unlikely to draw much attention.

In all, about 4500 candidates have been registered for the election to contest 219 seats in the Parliament with the help of 44 million Iranians eligible to vote (population of Iran is 70 millions). But so far the election sees a low voter turnout.

Men and women vote separately in Iran. The finger prints of voters are taken, and they get a special stamp in their document, which indicates that they took part in the election.

It seems the vote isn't likely to be for change as 70% of reformist opposition candidates registered for the election have been barred from participating in the vote.

The reformists have two lists of candidates, not a unified one, which considerable diminishes their chances to get more seats in the Parliament.

Analysts say they will hardly get more 20%.

Final Results of the election are expected to be announced on Sunday.