The Iranian president's conservative rivals have won a majority in parliamentary elections. The results indicate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chances of being reelected next year are dim.
Ahmadinejad's conservative opponents won 41 of 65 seats in the 290-member parliament in the second round of Friday's by-election, Iran's interior ministry said Saturday. The president's supporters won 13 mandates and independents earned 11.
The coalition of conservatives, led by parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, gained a landslide victory in the first round of voting on March 2.
The parliament will begin its session later this May. It has no direct say in Iran's foreign policy or nuclear policies, which is classified as a "state matter" and, under the constitution, decided by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But parliament can influence the run-up to the election of Ahmadinejad's successor in 2013.
Larijani criticized Ahmadinejad on election day for reported plans to increase petrol prices by 150 percent and natural gas by 200 percent to fill gaps in the budget.
The results of the poll are considered a pointer for next year's presidential elections as well as for the amount of resistance Ahmadinejad will face at the end of his second, and final, four-year term in office. The president is said to have alienated Khamenei by making his own decisions. Some have accused his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, of trying to undermine the political role of the clergy.
sb/ncy (AP, dpa, Reuters)