Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were leading in the race for parliament,according to early election results Saturday,an indication the Iranian president may face a more hostile house in the remaining 18 months of his second term in office.
The strong showing by loyalists of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Fridays parliamentary elections also reflected staunch support for Irans theocracy and its firm stance in the nuclear standoff with the West.
Early returns Saturday,in the capital Tehran,showed Khamenei loyalists had pulled ahead. Partial results from provincial towns also showed conservative Ahmadinejad rivals were elected in many constituencies.
State media said the turnout was estimated at over 67 percent from among 48 million Iranians eligible to vote. The conservatives lead had been expected as the balloting for the 290-seat parliament had boiled down to a popularity contest between two conservative camps those opposing Ahmadinejad and those backing him.
The elections were the first major vote since Ahmadinejads disputed re-election in June 2009. With the opposition crushed in the brutal crackdowns over the past three years and major reformist factions absent from polling stations,the outcome of the elections is unlikely to change Irans course over major policies including its refusal to halt uranium enrichment that the West fears is geared toward weapons making,military and oil policies.