Polls opened Friday morning in runoff elections to decide the remaining unresolved seats in the Iranian parliament. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's party is expected to fare poorly.
Iranian voters headed to the polls Friday for runoff elections to decide the remaining 65 of the 290 seats in the nation's parliament. 25 of the 30 seats in the capital Tehran are set to be decided.
The conservative opposition hopes to repeat its first-round election success from March, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his faction are expected to fare poorly.
The coalition of conservatives led by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, one of the main opponents of Ahmadinejad, gained a landslide victory in the first round on March 2, securing more than 70 per cent of the vote.
Larijani's coalition is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs. Khamenei, traditionally the first Iranian to cast his vote, called on the people on state television to take the runoffs as seriously as the first round.
State media reported "glorious and vivid" voter participation with long queues in front of the polling stations. Witnesses in the capital Tehran could not confirm the claims.
Parliament has no influence on the country's foreign or nuclear policy direction, the latter being classified as a "state matter" and, under the constitution, decided by Khamenei.
Challenge awaits Ahmadinejad
In his final year in office, Ahmadinejad is expected to face a challenge to his reform programmes from his opponents in parliament, who now have a majority of seats. He is nevertheless expected to be able to serve until the end of his term next year.
Ahmadinejad's opponents in parliament say that his economic policy reforms have led to more inflation. The inflation rate is officially at 20 per cent but is said to be more than 40 per cent per year.
There are no official statistics on possible turnout or voting tendencies for Friday, but parliamentary runoffs have drawn poor participation in recent years.
According to the Interior Ministry, the results are due to be announced within 48 hours of the closure of the polling stations, which will remain open until 10pm local time in some places.
al/msh (AP, dpa)