TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian voters headed to the polls on Friday for a second round of parliamentary elections that are likely to see conservative opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad consolidate their hold on the legislature.
State TV said that 130 candidates are competing in run-off elections for 65 still-undecided seats in the 290-member parliament, including 25 of the 30 seats in the capital Tehran.
Conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad have already won outright a majority of seats of the new parliament in the first round of the elections in March.
Ahmedinejad, elected for the second time in 2009 with the backing of the clerical establishment, has seen his political fortunes decline sharply after he was perceived to have defied the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in April 2011 and tried to expand the authority of the presidency.
Although he is likely to be able to serve until the end of his term next year, his allies have been pushed out of key posts and his political clout has been weakened.
Iran has touted the voter turnout — officially, 64 percent in the first round — as a sign of trust in the clerical-led system and a rejection of Western pressure over the country’s controversial nuclear program.
“My advice is that people to take the runoff serious as the first round” said Khamenei said in comments carried live by television after he cast his vote.
The new parliament will begin its work late May. It has no direct control over major policy matters like Iran’s nuclear program, but it can influence the selection of Ahmedinejad’s successor and other top officials.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.