Iran’s ninth parliamentary elections were wrapped up after voting was extended for five hours until 11PM local time.
Elections headquarters announced that vote counting began immediately and will continue without interruption.
Iranian media reported voter turnout of 68 percent, but no official statistics have been released yet. Opposition groups report that participation was lower than usual.
Preliminary results indicate that Mohammadreza Tabesh, a reformist figure linked to former president Mohammad Khatami, has been elected to the next Parliament. Mostafa Kavakebian, another reformist figure, reportedly did not get get into parliament.
It is also reported that Parvin Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sister, failed to get a seat in parliament.
The most talked about event of the elections turned out to be news of Mohammad Khatami’s participation. Khatami had indicated that reformists such as himself could not take part in the elections unless all political prisoners were released and an open political atmosphere was guaranteed.
Some opposition analysts have interpreted Khatami’s casting of a vote as an attempt to maintain negotiation channels with the establishment. However, many reformist journalists have denounced Khatami’s actions, criticizing his lack of commitment to his own statements.
Also casting ballots were Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council, and Hassan Khomeini, two top figures in the Islamic Republic establishment who have been cautiously critical of the government’s crackdown on protesters over the past three years.
Rafsanjani, who had called for a recount in the last election, said today: “God willing, the result of today’s elections will be what people cast in the ballots.”
He added: “If the outcome is what people have voted for, we will have a good Parliament.”
The 2009 presidential elections were marred by allegations of vote fraud. Reformist candidates MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi challenged the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and mass street protest were met with a severe crackdown and continued arrests. Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest together with their wives last year and have not been released yet.
Many reformist groups boycotted the parliamentary elections. calling them “undemocratic” and “a sham” in view of the closed political atmosphere and the continued arrest of political activists.