Iranians vote in a parliamentary runoff election after hard-liners dominate initial balloting

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a runoff election for the remaining seats in the country’s parliament after hard-line politicians dominated March balloting.

Voting was extended for four hours because it was a weekend holiday.

The official IRNA news agency said that counting began immediately after polls closed. Final results were expected by Monday, though counts in smaller constituencies will likely will be announced sooner.

People in 22 constituencies across the country voted to elect 45 representatives from a pool of 90 candidates, 15 of whom are considered moderate.

In the capital, Tehran, 16 representatives will be chosen from 32 candidates, all hard-liners.

Iran’s parliament plays a secondary role in governing the country. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say in all important state matters.

State television showed Khamenei voting on Friday immediately after the polls opened. He urged people to vote and said the runoff election was as important as the main one.

Other Iranian leaders, including President Ebrahim Raisi, also cast ballots.

The new parliament will begin its job on May 27.

The March election saw hard-liners win 200 out of 245 seats, with more moderate candidates taking the other 45. A total of 25 million ballots were cast, for a turnout of just under 41%, the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought Islamists to power. The previous lowest turnout was 42% in the 2020 parliamentary election.

Those politicians calling for change in the country’s government, known broadly as reformists, were generally barred from running in the election. Those calling for radical reforms or for abandoning Iran’s theocratic system were also banned or didn’t bother to register as candidates.