Iran hardliners lose seats on top clerical body

epa05184811 Iranian journalists follow the preliminary results of parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections at the Interior Ministry, in Tehran, Iran, 28 February 2016. Iran's reformists were on course to win all of Tehran's 30 seats in parliament, a major boost for President Hassan Rowhani after the 26 February elections for the legislature and assembly of experts.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Tehran / AFP

Iranian hardliners suffered another election setback on Monday with two leading conservatives ejected from the top clerical body, handing another victory to moderate President Hassan Rouhani whose reformist allies made gains.
The public’s rejection of ayatollahs Mohammad Yazdi and Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi when picking the powerful Assembly of Experts came as final results were also awaited for parliamentary polls after voting on Friday.
The reformist camp which allied with Rouhani in the elections staged a comeback, especially in the capital where preliminary results on Sunday showed them taking all 30 seats at the expense of conservatives.
Campaigning under its “List of Hope”, a slate of reformist candidates supporting the president and his government after its recent nuclear deal with world powers secured strong backing and will regain significant power in parliament.
Reformists stayed away from parliamentary elections four years ago, in protest at hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009, which its defeated candidates said was rigged.
The unanimous sweep in Tehran propelled the reformists forward but results from other cities were split, with conservatives losing seats but retaining high numbers in provinces, an outcome that is likely to mean no group winning a majority.
According to partial results from 274 out of parliament’s 290 seats, the main conservative list will have 100 MPs, reformists and moderates from the List of Hope 94, and Independents 11.
There were also four conservative-leaning independent MPs elected and five minorities of no political affiliation.
However 60 constituencies had no clear winner, meaning a second round run-off will be needed in a field that has more conservatives than reformists and moderates.
Several MPs who were vehement critics of Rouhani’s nuclear deal and diplomacy with the West lost their seats, with voters flocking instead to the List of Hope.
The results so far represent “a reaction against radicals” from the electorate, Amir Mohebbian, an analyst with close links to politicians of all political hues in the Islamic republic, said.
“But mistakes by the conservatives who supported radicals during the campaign were also to blame” for their losses, he said.

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