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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Guards make early gains in Iran election

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DUBAI: Candidates affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards looked on course to win a parliamentary majority on Saturday, reportedly leading in the race in Tehran and across the country after a vote stacked in favour of loyalists to the supreme leader.


The Interior Ministry said a list of candidates affiliated with the Guards led in the capital. An unofficial tally by Reuters shows hardliners have so far won about 178 seats in the 290-seat parliament, independents 43 and moderates 17.


In some constituencies, where candidates failed to get 20 per cent of votes cast on Friday, a run-off election will be held in April.


A clean sweep for hardliners would confirm the political demise of the country’s pragmatist politicians, weakened by Washington’s decision to quit a 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions in a move that stifled rapprochement with the West.


However, Iranian authorities have yet to announce the turnout in the race for the 290-seat legislature.


Such a result would help the Guards, already omnipresent in Iranians’ daily lives, to increase their substantial influence in political, social and economic affairs.


Iranians long for stability after a succession of political and economic crises.


The spokesman for the watchdog Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodai, predicted that the turnout would be around 50 per cent, telling state television on Friday that the Iranian nation had disappointed its enemies by voting in large numbers.


Turnout was 62 per cent in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66 per cent of people voted in 2012. — Reuters


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