Conservative rivals of Iran’s hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were leading the race for seats in parliament, according to initial results yesterday from Friday’s elections that the reformist movement shunned as a sham. The trend, if confirmed by final official results, will leave the president facing a more hostile house during his remaining 18 months in office. Analysts had predicted a strong showing by Mr Ahmadinejad’s hardline opponents. They are loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been locked in a power struggle with the unruly president he once championed. Mr Ahmadinejad had hoped a robust performance by his candidates would give him a political lifeline and a say in who succeeds him in the presidential election next year when his second term ends.
But out of 189 winners declared by noon yesterday, at least 97 were conservative opponents of the president, the Associated Press reported. Also elected were six liberal-leaning candidates opposed to him. The remaining 86 seats were split between the president’s supporters and centrists. In a particular embarrassment, Parvin Ahmadinejad, his younger sister, was defeated by a conservative in their hometown of Garmsar, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.