Iranian moderates and reformists who support last year’s landmark nuclear deal have won the largest number of seats in parliament following runoff elections, marking a shift away from hard-liners and boosting moderate President Hassan Rouhani as he looks to secure a second term in office. The results released Saturday on state television failed to give the moderate-reformist camp an outright majority in the 290-seat chamber, however. They will now likely try to attract support from dozens of independent lawmakers whose political leanings vary depending on the issue at hand. There were 68 seats being contested in runoff elections held Friday in 55 constituencies around the country. Residents in the capital, Tehran, did not take part in the second-round balloting because moderates won all 30 seats there outright in first-round voting in February.
The reformist and moderate list claimed 37 seats in Friday’s vote, giving them a total of 143 seats in the assembly — just two seats shy of 50 percent. They are followed by hard-liners, with 86 seats, and independents, with 61. Twenty-two hard-liners and nine independents won seats in the runoff.
Mohammad Reza Aref, head of the moderate-reformist bloc, welcomed the victory, saying “our priority is engagement with other factions rather than confrontation,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz called the results a “decisive victory” for the moderate-reformist bloc. “It is now clear that they are more popular than hard-liners, even in the remote areas,” where their support was seen as lower than in major cities, Leilaz said.