Iran General NewsIran rejects criticism of election

Iran rejects criticism of election

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AP: Iran dismissed Western criticism of its parliamentary elections, pointing Monday to 60 percent turnout in an election that saw conservatives win a majority, although reformists were largely barred. The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran dismissed Western criticism of its parliamentary elections, pointing Monday to 60 percent turnout in an election that saw conservatives win a majority, although reformists were largely barred.

Reformists say the deck was stacked against them because the cleric-led Guardian Council threw out most of their candidates on grounds they were insufficiently loyal to the values of Islam and Iran’s 1979 revolution.

The United States called the election “cooked” because of the disqualifications. The European Union said the vote was “neither fair nor free” and that the barring of candidates was a “grave violation” of international norms.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the European comments were “hasty and biased judgments” and that the EU should “reconsider its unjust and unconstructive approach” toward Iran.

The election “observed all provisions of the constitution and other related laws of the country and was approved by an absolute majority of the Iranian nation,” he said, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Conservatives maintained their hold on the 290-member parliament. But their camp is split between hard-line allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supporters who have become sharp critics of the president. They accuse him of fumbling efforts to fix the economy and of acting unilaterally and brashly on domestic issues without consultations with others.

Reformists, who seek greater democracy in Iran and closer ties with the West, appeared likely to at least retain the small bloc they held in the outgoing parliament.

With final results reported from all races except those in Tehran, 113 of parliament’s 290 seats went to conservatives. Approximately 70 went to a list dominated by pro-Ahmadinejad hard-liners and the rest to a slate led by his conservative critics, according to individual results announced by state television and the official news agency IRNA.

The numbers are not firm because some winners ran on both sides.

Reformists won 31 seats, according to the results. Another 39 winners were independents whose political leanings were not immediately known. Five other seats were dedicated to Iran’s Jewish, Zoroastrian and Christian minorities.

Reformist leaders said at least 14 winning independents are pro-reform, bringing their bloc to 45 seats so far. That would be around the number of the reformists in the outgoing parliament.

Races for more than 70 seats will go to a run-off vote set for April or May, and reformists are participating in many of them.

Results for Tehran’s 30 seats were expected later Monday. Ahmadinejad’s allies were winning at least 14, according to partial results, IRNA reported. The rest were likely to head to a second-round vote, in which reformists could pick up several seats.

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