[QODLink]
Middle East
Iran holds second round of parliamentary vote
Up to 130 candidates vying for 65 seats in the 290-seat Majlis currently dominated by conservative factions.
Last Modified: 04 May 2012 17:44
Ahmadinejad's power has been weakened as conservative opponents backing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei increase [EPA]

Iranians have voted in a second round of parliamentary elections seen by the country's leaders as an endorsement of their controversial nuclear development programme, state media reported.

Major polling stations in Friday's polls were packed with people voting for 25 of Tehran's 30 seats in the parliament, state television reported. The other five were decided in the first round in March.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his wife, Aazam Farahi, cast their ballots in the afternoon without making any remarks to waiting reporters.

Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, told state television that a high voter turnout would soften attitudes by Western nations, which have imposed crippling sanctions suspecting Iran is on course to acquiring an atomic bomb.

Iran insists its programme is intended for generating power.

Double-digit inflation

"When the West and some regional countries find out that Iranian government has the strong support of its people, global enemies will be pushed back and peace will return to the region," Larijani said.

Some voters said they were voting over economic issues.

Several rounds of UN sanctions over the nuclear issue have hit Iran hard, contributing to double-digit inflation and unemployment.

In-depth coverage of a growing regional debate 

Of the 130 candidates, two for each of the 65 seats, 69 are conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad, about 26 back the president and the rest are centrists.

Although Ahmadinejad is likely to serve until the end of his term in August 2013, his allies have been forced out of key posts and his political clout has been weakened.

Nuclear stalemate

Western nations, led by the US and the EU, have demanded Iran stop uranium enrichment - a pre-requisite for building a nuclear bomb - but Iran has so far shown no sign of backing down.

"My advice is that people take the run-off as seriously as the first round," Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, said in comments carried live by state television after he cast his vote.

Conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad already won an outright majority of seats of the new parliament in the first round of elections.

Ahmadinejad, who won re-election in 2009 in a hotly disputed election with the backing of the clerical establishment, has seen his political fortunes decline sharply after he was perceived to have defied the supreme leader in April 2011 and tried to expand the authority of the presidency.

The new parliament, which has no direct control over major policy matters like Iran's nuclear programme, will begin its session in late May.

But it can influence the selection of Ahmadinejad's successor and other senior officials and give backing to the policies of Khamenei.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.