Iran: Ahmadinejad opponents lead in early returns
The government celebrated what it called an epic turnout for the parliamentary elections. The overall turnout was claimed to be 64.2 per cent with 48 per cent in the capital Tehran. Many westernised more liberal urbanites would not bother to vote since most liberals were not qualified to run. Four years ago the turnout was 60 per cent. While the regime may be elevating the numbers these figures do not seem out of the ball park.
The leading group United Principlist Front has been quite critical of Ahmidinejad for his handling of the economy and also for not showing sufficient loyalty to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Even Ahmadinejad's sister lost her seat in her hometown.
David Hartwell a Middle East analyst said voter had a choice "between two brands of hard line conservatism -- a mainly religious strand personified by followers of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a more nationalist strand advocated by supporters of Ahmadinejad," Ahmadinejad is not eligible to seek re-election next year but these results show that a president less in conflict with the Supreme Leader will likely win.
There were more than 3,400 candidates all cleared to run by the Guardian Council composed of lawyers and clerics. The final results may not be in for a day or so. For more see this Bloomberg article