Iran Elections: Ahmadinejad Rivals Set to Gain Control of Parliament
Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appear on course to gain firm control of the Iranian parliament, according to early election results.
In a huge embarrassment to the president, his younger sister Parvin Ahmadinejad was defeated by a conservative rival in their hometown of Garmsar.
Of 197 winners declared by midday Saturday, at least 102 were conservatives who turned against Ahmadinejad after he openly challenged the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Among the prominent anti-Ahmadinejad victors were Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, whose daughter is married to Khamenei’s son, and parliament speaker Ali Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator.
Six independent candidates opposed to the president have also been elected so far.
The remaining seats were split between Ahmadinejad supporters and centrists. At least 15 races will have to be decided in runoffs.
The results indicate Ahmadinejad may face a more hostile parliament in his final 18 months in office and give the ruling clerics a clear path to ensure his successor is a Khamenei loyalist.
The conservatives’ lead was expected as the elections boiled down to a contest between conservatives supporting and opposing Ahmadinejad.
Reformists were virtually absent from the ballot, showing the crushing force of crackdowns on the opposition. Instead, Friday’s elections became a referendum on Ahmadinejad’s political stature after he tried to challenge the near-total authority of Khamenei to decide critical government policies such as intelligence and foreign affairs.
The apparent setbacks for Ahmadinejad’s backers, according to early results, could signal a decisive blow in the internal political conflicts and give hard-liners an even stronger say over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“It appears that the era of ‘Ahmadinejadism’ in Iran’s political history is gradually coming to an end,” said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a Tehran-based political analyst.
Khamenei said on Friday that Iran was moving into a “sensitive period” in the confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear programme, which Iran claims is peaceful but the US and its allies fear could lead to atomic weapons.