Reformist candidates in Iran won all 30 seats in capital Tehran in a resounding vote of confidence for President Rouhani. But tallies elsewhere in the country showed voters divided between conservatives and reformists.
Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani had won strong public backing, with his reformist allies making strong gains in parliamentary elections as well as in polls for the Assembly of Experts. Both bodies have traditionally been controlled by hard-liners close to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The reformers scored a unanimous victory in Tehran, taking all 30 seats at the expense of their conservative counterparts. The conservatives, however, retained a strong grip in other cities and provinces, signaling that no one political faction was likely to secure majority control of parliament. But the extent of Rouhani's gains in Tehran suggests that the parliament may soon have to be more receptive to his plans to open Iran up to foreign trade and improve relations with the West.
"The people showed their power once again and gave more credibility and strength to their elected government," Rouhani said, adding he would work with lawmakers to build a future for the oil-exporting country.
Rouhani gained recognition for securing a nuclear agreement in July 2015, ending a 13-year standoff with Western nations and resulting in the lifting of wide-reaching sanctions. However, he has so far been seen as unable to deliver significant social, cultural or political change at home.
Dispute in Assembly of Experts polls
Meanwhile, Iran's judiciary chief accused reformists of working with Westerners to block hard-liners from winning seats in the February 26 elections for the Assembly of Experts, with reformists poised to win the majority of votes.
In a statement, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani said that reformists had coordinated with "American and English media outlets" to prevent what he called some servants of the people from entering the assembly, which has the task of selecting the country's most powerful figure, the supreme leader.
Elected to an eight-year term, assembly members are in charge of picking Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's successor - should the 76-year-old die on their watch.
Final results on both polls are expected Monday or Tuesday, but even after all votes are counted by interior ministry officials, the Guardian Council's verification is not expected to follow for several days. Around 33 million people cast ballots in Friday's vote.
ss/gsw (AFP, Reuters)