Reformist Victory in Tehran Takes Principlists by Surprise

29 February 2016 | 01:07 Code : 1956817 General category
After years of suppression from opponent principlists, the reform front has raised the bar once again on its reform agenda stalled for more than a decade in the latest elections held in Iran.
Reformist Victory in Tehran Takes Principlists by Surprise

Hessam Emami


A coalition of reformists and moderates has made breakthrough victories in the elections for the tenth parliament and the fifth Assembly of Experts in the capital city of Tehran. A thirty-man list proposed by the coalition in Tehran has surprisingly caught support from the majority of people in Tehran, depriving every other nominee of a highly anticipated seat in the parliament. More than 2.6 million ballots have been counted and all the thirty nominees in the so-called ‘List of Hope’ have topped rivals from a similar coalition in the principlist front led by Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel who is now standing right behind them in the 31st rank, according to an official statement issued by the Interior Ministry. Mohammadreza Aref, a former Vice President, now tops the result list with a total number of 1,288,862 votes, followed by a principlist but dissenting MP, who joined the coalition, Ali Motahhari with 1,151,551 counted ballots. Mahjoub, Jelodarzadeh, and Elyas Hazrati come next in the list. The reformist moderate coalition list in Tehran included eight women nominees. So far, the last seat in the parliament belongs to Abdolreza Hashem-Zaei with 861,463. He is followed by Haddad Adel, with 855,288 votes. There are still slim chances that the some of the seats should be decided in a run-off, if the nominees fail to gain less than a quarter of the total ballots cast in the constituency. The total number of votes in Tehran has been estimated to be 3.3 million. On 2 p.m., Iranian state TV speculated that votes for all the first thirty nominees have already gone behind the quorum.


The city has apparently also succeeded in at least partly blocking what was dubbed as the JYM trio (Ayatollahs Ahmad Jannati, Mohammad Yazdi, and Mohammadtaghi Mesbah Yazdi) from the Assembly of Experts, according to lists published by correspondents inside the Election Headquarters. With votes collected from more than five thousand constituencies, incumbent chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Mohammad Yazdi, and Mesbah Yazdi, known for his radical position-takings, have fallen out of the assembly, with the former finishing 17th and the latter 19th. Vote counting is still underway but unverified reports say the Guardian Council Secretary, Ahmad Jannati, also an all-time member of the assembly, has come seventeenth in Tehran which means he is out as the assembly has sixteen seats available for Tehran. Official figures however say he is still in, standing fifteenth. The Interior Ministry has made it clear that such lists are not final, but the reformist/moderate coalition is expecting a more definitive victory as it points out that the remaining ballot boxes belong to uptown Tehran which has traditionally been a voter base for them. The results list is now led by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani with more than 2 million votes, followed by Ayatollah Emami Kashani who has now overtaken President Hassan Rouhani.


While the reformist/moderate camp has either only won or lost marginally across the country, the game in Tehran was one of flexing muscles as well as honor. The front has achieved most of its declared goals - So far so good.


According to the latest reports, vote counting will end early tomorrow, on the birthday of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a former presidential candidate who has been under house arrest since 2011, following a controversial election that led to street protests in 2009. He and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, reportedly voted on Friday, with a mobile ballot box taken to their house, in a gesture interpreted as a slight reconciliation with the establishment. Another dissenting presidential candidate under arrest, Mahdi Karroubi, had also asked for a mobile ballot box but according to a statement issued by his wife, declined to cast a vote as the box was provided after the voting hours had closed.

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